Jun. 2, 2018

Corpus Christi, 2018

“We will do everything that the Lord has told us” (Ex. 24:3)

Readings: 1st- Ex. 24:3-8; 2nd- Heb. 9:11-15; Gospel- Mk. 14:12-16, 22-26.

After Moses related all the words and ordinances of the Lord to them, the Israelites responded, “We will do everything that the Lord has told us” (Ex. 24:3). Then Moses offered holocausts and sacrifices of bulls as peace offerings to the Lord. The covenant was ratified by the sprinkling of the blood on the people. Then Moses reminds them, “This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words of his” (Ex. 24:8). The blood signified the presence of the Lord. It was a symbol of the Passover lamb.

At Sinai, the victim’s blood sealed the covenant between God and his people. Interestingly, the covenant between God and his people is characterized by sacrifice. Scott Hahn addresses the issue of Christ as the Lamb well in his book, The Lamb’s Supper. Hahn states, “As early as the second generation described in Genesis, we find, in the story of Cain and Abel, the first recorded example of a sacrificial offering. “Cain brought to the Lord an offering of fruit of the ground, and Abel brought the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions” (Ge. 4:3-4). In due time, we encounter similar burnt offerings from Noah (Gen. 8:20-21), Abraham (Gen 15:8-10; 22:13), Jacob (Gen. 46:1), and others. In Genesis, the patriarchs were forever building altars, and altars served primarily as places of sacrifice.” (The Lamb’s Supper (p.16). 

The Old Testament sacrifices pointed to the New Covenant, to Jesus Christ the Lamb of God. One example is Abraham’s attempt to offer his only son Isaac. In describing the two sacrifices, Hahn says, “The similarities were many. First, Jesus, like Isaac, was a faithful father’s only beloved son. Again, like Isaac, Jesus carried uphill the wood for His own sacrifice, which would be consummated on a hill in Jerusalem. In fact, the site where Jesus died, Calvary, was one of the hillocks on Moriah’s range. Moreover, the very first line of the New Testament identifies Jesus with Isaac as ‘the son of Abraham’ (Mt. 1:1).”

But there is a huge difference: Jesus’ sacrifice is the definitive sacrifice offered once and for all. The Lamb is Jesus who died on the Cross. Scripture records how John identifies Christ and points him to his disciples: “The next day John was again with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, ‘Behold the Lamb of God” (Jn. 1:36). That “Lamb of God” image is very strong at Mass, the sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ. Hahn explains the Mass further, “No one has to tell you that. Perhaps you’ve sung or recited the words a thousand times: “Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.” Just as many times you’ve seen the priest elevate the broken Host and proclaim, ‘This is the Lamb of God…’ The Lamb is Jesus… He is Lord, God, Savior, Messiah, King, Priest, Prophet…” He is the one “who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God” ((Heb. 9:13-14).

The gospel records an account of Christ’s Passover with his disciples. While they are at Supper, he takes the bread and says the blessing, breaks the bread and gives it to the disciples. The same thing he does with the cup. He says to them, “Take it, this is my body. This is the blood of the covenant which will be shed for many” (Mk. 14:22-24). The body of Christ is a living sacrifice. He sheds his blood for us and offers Himself for the sins of the world. Then he says to us, “Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me” (1 Cor. 11:26). That is what we do at Mass. That is what we are gathered here to do. That is the greatest covenant we can enter into with God, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

After Moses has spoken God’s intention in the Old Testament, the people respond, “We will do everything that the Lord has told us”. And Christ tells us at the Last Supper, “Do this in memory of me”. Can we, like the Old Testament Israel, say, “We will do everything that the Lord has told us”? Or, how can we do everything that the Lord tells us? The answer is to take the sacrifice of the Mass as serious as we can. The Eucharist, as we know, is a sacrament, an act of thanksgiving to God for the gift of Jesus Christ. It is the source and summit of all the sacraments. The Eucharist is Holy Communion. In it, we commune with God’s holiness, and through it, we transmit same to the community of believers. It is the highest form of prayer ever. 

Surely, each of us embraces God differently. We approach him in the way we know and understand best. But in the Holy Eucharist, we all receive Christ- eat His Body and drink his Blood. Christ assures us, “I am the bread of life. No one who comes to me will ever hunger. No one who believes in me will ever thirst.” (Jn.6:35). 

Do we not differ in our approach to prayer? The reason is because we feel God differently. Consider the story of the little boy who went out under the rain. The rain was heavy with storm, thunder and lightning. The mom got so scared and was worried that the thunder might harm her little boy. As she rushed out to grab her boy, she found him comfortably smiling and staring upwards at the lightening. She was so mad at him and dragged him off. This mom was curious to know what was amusing her son about the thunder and lightning. The little boy said, “Mom, God was taking pictures of me, and I had to pose well and smile as he took the shots”. You can see how differently we understand God. For some, God is scary, for others He is welcoming, and calm.

In the Eucharist, we are called to pray to God always. Our whole life is thanksgiving. Holiness, grace, and love, flow from our relationship with God. The Holy Eucharist unites us as members of the mystical body of Christ. It brings us into Holy Communion with Christ and with one another. In this communion, we become one family. We become one body (Corpus). We share the body of Christ (Corpus Christi). 

On this day, we celebrate and honor the Holy Eucharist. We celebrate the Real Presence of Christ. We reverence Christ in the tabernacle. We also commune with each other by extending God’s love to others. Think of what you receive and how you receive it. Do you really do what the Blessed Eucharist commands? Do you live out God’s love and mercy? Do you live out God’s peace and forgiveness? Do you reflect God’s holiness manifested in the Eucharist? Does the Holy Eucharist really permeate your entire being? Today’s feast is a day to remind ourselves of the great benefits we have in Christ through the Eucharist. Let us ask God to help us through the prayer called Anima Christi: “Soul of Christ, sanctify me. Body of Christ, save me. Blood of Christ, inebriate me. Water from Christ's side, wash me. Passion of Christ, strengthen me. O good Jesus, hear me. Within Thy wounds hide me. Suffer me not to be separated from Thee. From the malicious enemy defend me. In the hour of my death call me. And bid me come unto Thee. That I may praise Thee with Thy saints and with Thy angels. Forever and ever. Amen”