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Contents: Volume 2 - The Body & Blood of Christ - 06/03/2018


 

 The

Body &

Blood of

Christ

1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP
2. -- Carol & Dennis Keller
3. -- Brian Gleeson CP
4. --
5.. (Your reflection can be here!)



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The Body and Blood of Christ 2018

Several images and thoughts came to mind as I read these passages this week. We, today, are often "sprinkled" with a sign of our covenant, too, when we are sprinkled with the water of our Baptism during many of our liturgies. Jesus became our Mediator when he offered his own Body and Blood as a sign of the new covenant and as a "deliverance from transgressions of the first covenant". Finally, we receive the Body and Blood of Jesus in the Eucharist as a living sign of Jesus's continued presence in us and in our world.

Everyone in our world sure needs to know that what we often see and hear around us is not all that life is. We have a Mediator who helps when transgressions occur. We have "the promised eternal inheritance". We have the invisible Jesus who is alive and active still.

As we balance the reality of life's drama with the hope of the future, let us hold fast to what we can see and hear and taste and smell and touch each time we receive the Eucharist. It is pure Gift to our world whose members are often bruised, lonely, disenchanted, and in need of a Savior. There is One.. and today we celebrate Jesus's Body and Blood poured out for us and with us still.

Blessings,
Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP
Southern Dominican Laity
lanie@leblanc.one

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The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ June 3 2018

Exodus 24:3-8; Responsorial Psalm 116; Hebrews 9:11-16; Sequence Lauda Sion: Gospel Acclamation John 6:51; Mark 14:12-16 & 22-26

This is the third week of that the Liturgy of the Word reminds us of God’s continuing presence. Pentecost brought us the Spirit with a loud wind and tongues of fire. It is evidence life has been changed because God has become one of us. It teaches us that the ministry of Jesus and his work of his death and resurrection is our way to personal and communal fulfillment, peace, joy, and unity. It is not only God’s breath of God in Adam’s nostrils of Adam that gives us physical life. Now there is more. We have the real possibility of divine life. It is the Spirit abiding within us that enlivens, directs, and inspires us in efforts to follow the Way of the Christ.

Last Sunday we celebrated the presence of the Trinity, that mystery of mysteries. We participate in the reality of the Trinity because we are God’s creation, unique and visible expressions of what God is. There is more. With the Incarnation of the Son of God as one of us we have the possibility of joining a new creation – a new heaven and a new earth. We are invited to share in the new creation that is The Christ. Jesus was anointed The Christ when he ascended the throne of the cross. And when that inauguration was completed he was raised and was the first of the New Creation. Jesus is so very changed in this new creation. We cannot forget the experience of the women at the tomb or the disciples when they first met Jesus after the resurrection. Jesus was so transformed – still bearing the marks of his passion and death – so changed as to appear a stranger to those who walked with him for more than three years. We are created in the image and likeness of God and are different from the rest of creation. We are created individual, unique persons. We are each a unique expression of God’s image and likeness. Last Sunday we wrote about the necessity of living in community; of the necessity of worshipping the Divine as brothers and sisters; we are the offspring of God’s creative action.

The question not asked last week cries out for an answer. If we are sisters and brothers in God’s creative action, if we are uniquely created as individual persons – how is it that anyone can ever disrespect another human? How is it that anyone can dehumanize and hate another? Even our enemies are unique expressions of God’s creative breath. How is it that we can so freely condemn immigrants who seek safety, opportunity, and the dignity that is their birth-right? How is it that we hold in lower esteem those of a different race, of a different gender, of a different nation, of a different language, or even of a different religion? Perhaps it’s because the way of the world dominates our daily lives? The way of the world wins its objectives by dividing us from each other. The way of the world sows hatred as its most valuable tool. Why? Perhaps all this is possible because we relegate our relations with God to an hour on a week-end?

This Sunday’s readings are more complicated. Since before we received our first communion we’ve been taught that Jesus comes to us in the form of food and drink – under the symbols and signs of bread and wine. In our receiving the Body and the Blood of the Lord we become what He is. And we --- together with all other Christians – become the Body of Christ that makes God’s loving kindness, compassion, and mercy present in the physical world. Either we have faith in the Word of the Gospels and the apostolic epistle descriptions of Christian liturgy or we don’t. If we believe in the Body and Blood of the Christ, our attendance at liturgy must be more than a spectator sport. Our liturgies must engage us. The Liturgy of the Word must inform us of God, of our nature as humans, our role and relationship with all of creation from the smallest amoeba to the vastness of the continually expanding universe. The Liturgy of the Eucharist is a thanksgiving. Our responsorial psalm this Sunday asks, “How shall I make a return to the Lord, for all the good he has done for me? The cup of salvation I will take up and I will call upon the name of the Lord.” The author of psalm 116 is said to have been a person in service to the Jerusalem Temple. Something happened, a conspiracy was formed and he lost favor with the Temple crowd. He became the victim of a hate campaign and was so rejected and despised that he was at the point of despair. In some way God intervened and saved him from his despair and insolation. This psalm expresses the joy and peace that comes when we realize that God intervenes. The peace in an experience of God’s loving kindness, mercy, and compassion make it possible for us to endure even the most horrific of events. It is how the poor find a place of rest. It is how the persecuted continue to give witness to the love of God in their living.

This Sunday’s special celebration of the Body and the Blood of Christ is a source of strength. Just as our meals provide us bodily energy, strength, and healing to power our engagement with our work and families, so also the Eucharist provides us with the spiritual nourishment to thrive in the Love of God. The Eucharist provides us under the signs and the symbols of food and drink the nourishment we need to survive the anger, divisiveness, and hate by which the world operates. The readings this Sunday complicate our lesson. The first reading tells us of the commitment of the Hebrew tribes to God as their only God. God’s commitment to the Hebrew peoples is the other side of this transaction. Both the people and God are covered over with the blood of holocaust sacrifices. Blood and breath are two universally accepted signs of life. As long as a body has blood flowing within its veins and breath bringing oxygen into the blood stream, it is living. The blood of the holocausts sprinkled on the altar – representing God – and on the people, symbolize the joining together in one life blood the two parties to a covenant. They now share a common life.

We speak and sing often of the Blood of the Christ outpoured. If we give thought to this blood poured out by the body of the God-Man Jesus, we gain an insight into God’s commitment to humanity. It is the work of Jesus completed and finalized in his pouring out his life blood. New channels of communication, new avenues of grace are discovered between the Divine and the created. As we live our lives we can be said to be pouring out our life into the work and relationships of our choices. What do we spend our lives doing?

When we approach the table of the Lord, Paul tells us that we must be sure that we do so worthily. In the context of that instruction, Paul is writing about relationships within the community. If we have anger against another member of the community, if we are not in communion with our community, then we receive the Body of the Lord to our condemnation. Our reception of the Body and the Blood of the Christ makes us one Body, the Mystical Body of the Christ. That is why – as Paul tells us – when we come to the table of the Lord (at Mass) and we discover there is a fight among us – we are to leave our gift at the altar and make peace before we approach the Table of the Lord. Otherwise we become a cancer to the Body of Christ and become an instrument of destruction of the organism that is the Body of the Lord.

Many have been unable to accept that the Bread consecrated by the Spirit and the Blood transformed by the action of the Spirit as the true Body and Blood of the Lord. Many believe it is the power of priesthood that effects this consecration. The priesthood is not the agent of transubstantiation. The presiding priest calls upon the Spirit to effect the change. But even so, for many unbelievers this is merely some hocus-pocus beyond the capacity of the human mind to accept.

The denial of the reality of Divinity, of God, is fairly and growing common. Technology, science, secular humanism and our socio-economic culture are forces creating a denial of Divinity. Our lives are filled with complications and we work to find rational excuses for conflicts. We make excuses for bad behavior, ours and those we support. Often faith is often reduced to a Sunday thing. Some come to God only when all else fails. Our liturgies are a more complete embracing of the Way of the Christ. We come together in community to share, to offer, to accept, and to recognize the dignity and worth of all creation. In the liturgy of the Word we hear about the presence of God in our history. Even though we hear the identical Sunday readings each three year cycle, there is always something new. It is not only that our experience opens us to new thoughts and inspirations. It is also that the Scriptures – both Hebrew and Christian – contain truth that applies in ever new and ever expanding inspiration and understandings. Over the centuries our faith expands, grows, and develops as need arises. When we bring to the table of the Lord the successes and failures of our daily living, our gifts are commingled with the gifts of others in our assembled community. Those gifts are accepted by the priest and become the material consecrated, that builds up the Body of Christ. When the priest calls upon the Holy Spirit to transform those gifts into the Body of Christ, the Spirit responds making what is small and often insignificant in the eyes of the world into the Body and the Blood of the Lord. When we eat of that Body and Blood, we are the ones transformed into the One Body of Jesus the Christ.

Our liturgies don’t cease with the sharing of the Body and Blood. When we are sent out, we transform the world. By serving the world with Christian Service we transform it. We come to the world inspired by The Christ. It is not for accumulations of power, wealth, or prestige. We are like the Hebrew Tribes in our first reading who shout out, “We will do everything that the Lord has told us.” For what the Lord has told us through the Hebrew Scriptures and what Jesus the Lord told us by his preaching, his healing, his releasing the addicted, and by his death and his resurrection, all this history and all these developments in our persons will bring us to a personal and communal peace. In such a peace we are able to grow in maturity, in wisdom, and the love of God and neighbor. Without it we enter a world where lies and manipulations are common and acceptable.

Let us listen well: let us come to the Table of the Lord to become one with the Lord in the food we eat and the drink we share. Let us go forth to live in the light of the mysteries proclaimed and the nourishment and unity formed by the Body and the Blood of the Lord our God.

May it be so!

Carol & Dennis Keller dkeller002@nc.rr.com

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EUCHARIST MEANS MISSION: CORPUS CHRISTI B

In all our Catholic churches, the main way we pray together is the Eucharist, the Mass. From start to finish, Jesus Christ is active and alive in us who are parts, indeed limbs and cells, of his risen body. The climax, the high point of our celebration, is when we receive him in Holy Communion. There he gives himself to us in love and nourishes our relationship with him. There he wants to sets us ‘on fire’ with his ‘powerful love’ (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, #10). So, from our intimate sharing with him in communion, we are meant to go back to our homes and neighbourhoods with a new heart, a new spirit, and a new commitment. In other words, Jesus sends us out from his table to nourish others with our body and blood, i.e. with the gift of ourselves, our love, and our lives. He sends us out to bring to others a love like his – a love that is unselfish, caring, forgiving, generous and constant.

At the very the end of Mass Jesus has one final word to say to us. Through our priest or deacon he commands us in these or similar words: 'Go and announce the gospel of the Lord.’ His intention is ‘[that] each [of us] may go out [from his table] to do good works, praising and blessing God’ [General Instruction of the Roman Missal 2002, #90c].

We cannot, in fact, truly share the consecrated bread and wine without also sharing the daily bread of our personal and community resources of one kind or another. Communion with him is essentially defective, and even an empty sham, if we ignore or neglect him in our poor and needy sisters and brothers.

Long ago St John Chrysostom had something to say about this that is particularly strong, sharp and challenging. Here are his words:

Do you wish to honour the body of Christ? Do not ignore him when he is naked. Do you not pay him homage in the temple clad in silk, only then to neglect him outside where he is cold and ill-clad. He who said: ‘This is my body’ is the same who said: ‘You saw me hungry and gave me no food; and ‘Whatever you did to the least of my brothers [and sisters] you did also to me’ … What good is it if the Eucharistic table is overloaded with golden chalices when your brother [or sister] is dying of hunger. Start by satisfying his [or her] hunger and then with what is left you may adorn the altar as well.[1]

In a nutshell, our Holy Communion with Christ requires us to identify with poor, suffering, troubled and afflicted persons all over the world: Did not Vatican II say: 'The joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the people of our time, especially of those who are poor or afflicted, are the joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the followers of Christ as well?' [‘The Church in the Modern World’, #1]

Our whole Mass is a matter of remembering, celebrating and joining in Christ’s wonderful work of liberating and transforming human beings. So our celebration is meant to send us out to liberate oppressed and struggling persons from all that is not of God, from all that crushes or inhibits their dignity as his sons and daughters. This is so true that until Jesus Christ comes back to the earth at the end of time, the strongest sign of his presence and self-giving in the Eucharist is our life-style afterwards. It’s meant to be a life-style of service, of binding up wounds, of reaching out to persons in need with caring, unselfish, and generous love in dozens of different ways, all the ways that Jesus himself reached out to others during his days and years on earth.

The Eucharist, then, means that we are people sent out on mission, and people who find in the Bread that is Christ and the wine that is Christ our nourishment and strength to reach out to others. A beautiful ecumenical document known as the Lima Statement puts it this way: ‘The Eucharist is precious food for missionaries, bread and wine for pilgrims on their apostolic journey’ [Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry, E26].

The truth is that shared prayer and shared life before and after prayer go together. This is particularly true of the Eucharist. For it is there that we remember, celebrate and encounter the presence and person of Jesus Christ giving himself in love to God the Father, and giving himself in love to human beings.

So, to sum up my message to you on this Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, one of the quite special meanings of the Eucharist, but one that is too often overlooked or neglected, is that it is about ‘going out to make a better world’ (Christiane Brusselmans).

[1] John Chrysostom, In Evangelium S. Matthaei,,hom, 50:3-4; PG 58, 508-509. Cited by John Paul II, Ecclesia de Eucharistia [Encyclical Letter on the Eucharist in relationship to the Church], footnote 34.

"Brian Gleeson CP" <bgleesoncp@gmail.com>

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Volume 2 is for you. Your thoughts, reflections, and insights on the next Sundays readings can influence the preaching you hear. Send them to preacherexchange@att.net.  Deadline is Wednesday Noon. Include your Name, and Email Address.

-- Fr. John
 


 

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