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Contents: Volume 2 - Body & Blood – A – June 18, 2017


 

 Body &

Blood

of Christ

1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Barbara Cooper, OP

3. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

4. -- Brian Gleeson CP

5. -- Paul O'Reilly SJ

6. – (Your reflection can be here!)

 

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The Body and Blood of Christ 2017

Our first reading recounts a scene just before the Israelites enter the Promised Land. Moses reminds the people "Do not forget the Lord, your God." Oh, how we need to hear this today, in 2017, amidst all the trials and tribulations that each of us face individually, in our families, as a community, a nation, and as inhabitants of a troubled world!

It is easy to list present difficulties. The list would be very long, even after just a cursory look at the news or, closer to home, viewing however your typical day enfolds. Moses had a better idea and so did my pastor these last two closing Masses of the school year this past week.

Even in the midst of difficulties or after a long haul through these difficulties, these two men of God reminded us to look around. God has been with us all the way, providing for us!! In Fr. Jack's homilies, he talked about the hands and hearts of love that have helped the graduating eighth graders grow from young children to enthusiastic teens... and all of us weather storms and grow in ways of kindness and service.

Yes, as we stumble and walk along our journey, we often just try to survive, not paying much attention to Who holds us. It is time to be grateful, to our God and the people God puts in our lives who are "there for us", family, friends, and community. Let us not forget the powerful presence of Jesus, present within us, Presence renewed at each Eucharist, Food for the journey.

This Presence within us facilitates our awareness of God-things around us as well as growth in so many spiritual ways. Let us reflect on the faithfulness, providence, and goodness of the Lord in prayerful reflection. Let us also re-commit to seeking the Lord more pro-actively as we go through our day, finding God in the joys and challenges we see.

May we take advantage of the nourishment of the Body and Blood of Christ as often as we can. May we express our gratitude to God and others for their presence in our lives. May our gratitude change our attitude and outlook so we can be on the look out for the God Who is ALWAYS with us!

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one

 

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Body and Blood of Christ (A) June 18, 2017

Have you ever been hungry? Not the "supper is thirty minutes late" hungry. Not even the "old Lenten fast" hungry. But the gut wrenching, bodily and mental weakness that comes from not getting enough food to nourish life. The days, weeks, months, and years of destitution and poverty kind of hungry. The kind of hunger that Israel feared in the desert wilderness, being led by an unknown god into an unknown future. The kind that ignores a full belly but ravishes a parched spirit with things like loneliness, fear, discouragement, or lack of meaning and purpose.

Jesus seems to bless this kind of hunger – I think because it reveals to us our own needs. In Matthew 5 he tells us we are "blessed when we hunger and thirst for righteousness, for we will be filled". Once we realize that we are not the centre of the universe, that we don't stand alone in isolated splendour, we can start to live in truth, and hunger for right relationships with God and Creation.

John reminds us today that Jesus is the food that can and will satisfy our hungers. But we have to take this nourishment into ourselves. It's not enough to think about how good it is, or how lucky we are to have faith, or how holy, or to admire the beauty of it's presentation. No, food best feeds us when we actually eat it. When we open our mouths to take it in, chew on it, swallow, and let it be absorbed into our being.

So John tells us how Jesus feeds a multitude of thousands with a few fish and loaves of bread, with abundance so great that everyone is full and there are left-overs. No "holding back", no calculating, no limits to Divine love. And as I to often do, some people in this story get stuck in the food and never understand the meaning.

Jesus says: "I am the living bread. Being one with me is life-giving". Like Wisdom/Sophia in the book of Proverbs, he calls us:

"You who are of single-purpose, turn in here!

Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine I have mixed.

Lay aside immaturity, and live, and walk in the way of insight."

Food for life, given in love. What is it you thirst for? What hunger drives you? Who or what will fill that emptiness?

Barbara Cooper, OP

Vancouver Island, BC Canada

bcoop60@yahoo.com

 

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Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, June 18, 2017 – Father’s Day in U.S.A.

Deuteronomy 8:2-3 & 14-16; Responsorial Psalm 147; 1st Corinthians 10:16-17; John 6:51-58

The awesome depth and brevity of our readings this Sunday make it difficult to limit this reflection to a reasonable length. The readings express in just a few words the most impactful elements of the Way of the Lord. The liturgies we celebrate – the Liturgy of the Word, the Liturgy of the Eucharist and the Liturgy of Christian Service – are not only an expression of our faith, but also a continual lesson leading us to greater depths of commitment, understanding, and union with God. Central to these three liturgies is our faith leading to understanding and accepting the continual and abiding presence of The Lord within our assemblies. This presence is not only in a mystical sense but also in a physical and historical sense as well.

But how does one express in clear and poetic language the depth of God’s constant and wonderful interference? It is a unfathomable mystery how God can intervene and yet never override our personal freedom to choose. More relevant than God not forcing us to comply is that God constantly enhances our personal freedom to say "yes". God does this by freeing us from our addictions, our self-centeredness. This is a growth process begun when we open ourselves to his presence. That freedom allows us to say yes to the absolute truth of all reality whether visible, invisible and to reality we’ll experience in the near or distant future. The freedom he offers allows us to say yes to the beauty and harmony of reality we experience. He is with us even when our experience is terror-filled, is dangerous, threatening, floods us with pain and suffering. His gift of freedom leads us to say yes to a future of unimagined possibilities for us and our progeny. Our future is not merely in some heaven far down the road, but is now as well bearing his hope for us even now. In the energy of the freedom offered we are empowered to say yes to the unplumbed depths of truth about reality and relationships. Our commission at creation is to care for and develop ourselves and the created universe. We do this through our work, our science and the efforts of our hearts focused on discovering relevance for us and for the lives of those dear to us. The freedom God offers us expands exponentially as we move toward horizons whose beauty constantly attracts us. John Haught, a Catholic theologian, explains these thoughts in his book, What is God.

The reading from Deuteronomy puts these words into the mouth of Moses. Moses is imagined giving his final instruction to the Israelites before his death as the tribes of Hebrews began the conquest of the Promised Land. This is a retrospective history composed long after the conquest had been completed. We know this from the language of Deuteronomy and its focus on the liturgy of the Temple. The liturgy described reflects how the covenant of Moses was lived by the People of God about six hundred years before the birth of Jesus. This discourse of Moses was given to the people called together by God. In this we are like the Hebrews gathered on the banks of the Jordan. We are called together in a like kind of assembly. The scene in Deuteronomy is the nation of Israel, the great and the small, gathered together after forty years wandering in the desert. During that wandering the people of God sorted out what it meant to be Yahweh’s people. They experienced God’s continual intervention with quail, with manna, with water from the flinty rock. What could all this mean? What did God want for his efforts? What did this mean for the People who stumbled, made idolatrous mistakes, lost faith, found faith, denied faith, and repented of the hardness of their hearts? There must have been a frantic, stress filled, anxious feelings in the hearts and minds and stomachs of this people. Forty years is a long time, the lifetime of one generation. In Deuteronomy, Moses sums up that experience and what it means. But even he, after conversing with God face to face, stumbles a bit and speaks in metaphors and similes. At the beginning of the chapter of our reading Moses addresses the ‘assembled’ people of Yahweh in these words.

"Be careful to observe all the commandments I enjoin on you today that you may live and increase and may enter in and possess the land which the Lord promised on oath to your fathers."

The history of the Hebrew Scriptures is our history as well. We struggle with faith in God. We are tempted as were the Hebrews in the desert. Matthew’s Temptation of Jesus uses the verses of Deuteronomy and puts them on the lips of Jesus as he is tempted by the evil one. The gist of what the devil offered Jesus is the way of the world. The Way of Jesus stands in contradiction to the ways of the world. If we follow in the Way of Jesus, we must question ourselves: do we believe we are defined by the power of the world, by bribery for personal gain, or by notoriety to impress and gain adulation? Is the value of life and our personal meaning dependent on laying claim to divinity for ourselves through accumulation, through power, through pleasure seeking, or through notoriety? As an echo of Moses’ admonition to be careful, Jesus tells those gathered that he came so that we may have life and have it more fully. Jesus’ death on the cross leads to a new life, a life that is a recreation of human life. Even after thousands of years of God’s intervention and coaching it is still a struggle to reject the way of the way of the world so that we follow in the Way of the Lord. Will we ever get there? Perhaps God gives us the gift of time so we have the opportunity to grow?

Our first reading asks of us how we deal with trials and afflictions. Pain and suffering spring from the evil that finds a home in the hearts of mankind. But not only from the disease of evil in human hearts but there is pain arising from the incompleteness of the world. Paul tells that creation is growing as in the pains of childbirth to reach completion. God’s creation isn’t done yet. God is not the source of our afflictions. God is our help in dealing with those afflictions. In that sense they become a test of our faith. If we capitulate to the afflictions we are like all other nations who rely on false gods. Those are dead gods without life, without energy, without depth, lacking in truth, with skin deep beauty, and a phony future. Keep in mind this phrase from Moses: "…then he fed you with manna, a food unknown to you and your fathers, in order to show you that not by bread alone does one live." There is more to us than our bellies and fleeting pleasure. The continual work of seeking understanding takes us through the following thousand years of God working for and us till, after many trials, failures, and sin-filled deviations, we come to the scene of a Virgin visited by Gabriel, God’s messenger. "You shall conceive a son and his name shall be Emmanuel." The name, Emmanuel, means "God with us." It was a name given by the prophets to the hoped for Messiah. Matthew in his gospel gives that name to Jesus.

The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ began in 1246 inspired by visions of Juliana of Liege. It became a feast of the universal church in 1317 promulgated by John XXII. The celebration was marked by a procession with the Blessed Host carried by the priest. This feast countered a disbelief in the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.

Our second reading this Sunday expresses the faith of the early church in the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. Paul’s witness to the faith of the early assembly of Christians is clear. If God has the power to become man without losing his divinity: if God has the love and concern for his people that he chooses birth as a man and so engaging his creation then there is no valid question about God’s ability to be present under forms of bread and wine. It was God’s love for the work of his hands which reveals the movements of his heart. Jesus the Christ is truly present in this unleavened break, the fruit of the earth and the work of human hands? Creation, the darling of the Creator God, is so precious to God that God cannot turn away. The prophet says we are inscribed on the palms of his hands. Who then can deny the presence of the God/Man in this wine, the fruit of the earth and the work of human hands?

The final line of Paul this Sunday is important. He writes, "Because the loaf of bread is one, though many we are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf." In chapter eleven of his first letter to the Corinthians, he speaks about the unworthy reception of the bread and the cup. He condemns the failures of the assembly in Corinth to be one in faith. When we discern the Body of Christ it means we have faith that Jesus’ death is an imperative to unity. The Eucharist is a remembering of the love of God for us that is made evident by the cross. The Cross is God’s effort to be united with us in all the moments of our life including the most painful. Jesus told the apostles to "do this in memory of me." We live out our unity in the ritual of the communion procession. Those who have received the Body and the Blood remain standing until all have received. When all have received our action is a completed symbol of unity as one people, as one assembly. That processional ritual is a teaching moment that we are one in the Body and Blood of the Lord. At the Creed we stand, but we stand as individuals for we say "I believe in One God." In the Body and Blood of the Lord we demonstrate we are one people in faith, one body in the Lord.

For a moment let’s focus on the meaning of the offertory procession. A collection is taken up and brought, with the bread and wine, to the altar. This is no mere preparation for the thanksgiving sacrifice. We bring to the table of the Lord all that we are. In the early church each person approached the table with their gifts. Now we do approach the table in the person of proxies. What they bear are the fruits of our labor, our joys, our fears, our relationships, and our pains and tribulations. These are brought to the table of the Lord. At the altar the Holy Spirit, through the agency of the presiding priest, consecrates those gifts and they become the Body and Blood of Jesus. The consecration transforms the gifts, making them sacred: each event, each trial, each accomplishment, each relationship is elevated in meaning and purpose. There is no experience too small, no pain too intense to not be included in this consecrated bread and wine. When we receive the Body and Blood, we receive each other with all our beauty, our warts and blemishes, our accomplishments and our failures. Our very lives are transformed and brought into the Kingdom of God and shared with all. We are all made one, indivisible. If we reject anyone, if we denigrate another, if we berate others, if we fail to recognize the needs of others and fail to respond to those needs, we deny the unity of the Body and Blood of Jesus the Christ. That denial Paul tells us is the unworthy reception of the Body and Blood. If we lie, cheat, commit fraud, fail to live up to our commitments, we tear away at the unity of the Body and Blood of the Christ.

We are the presence of Christ in the world. When we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes in glory. Our efforts and pain are the stuff God consecrates, makes sacred in the Body and Blood of His Son. Our Lord is not a captive in the tabernacle. Our Lord is within us and remains with us till the end of this age when all will be finished.

Perhaps we can make this Body and Blood of the Lord more present by a simple greeting, a hello, a good morning. It’s a start. It will surely grow from there for the Lord is our nourishment. May we celebrate the depth, the beauty, the truth, the future and the wonderful freedom of the Children of God in the Body and Blood of the Lord! May it be so!!!

Carol & Dennis Keller dkeller002@nc.rr.com

 

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BECOMING ANOTHER CHRIST IN HOLY COMMUNION

In a nursing home the residents were gathered in the chapel for the feast we are celebrating today, that of the Body and Blood of Christ. One old woman, wheel-chair bound, was wearing two hats. A carer from the home tried to take one off, but the woman clung on tightly to her two hats. In her efforts to tidy up the situation, the carer saw that she was now defeated. So she backed off, and let the old lady be.

Perhaps that elderly lady, like the old-time prophets, was acting out a message to the gathered group. Perhaps she was saying: you all should wear two hats, i.e. you all should be your own individual selves - Peter, Rhonda, Brian, Xena, Reg, Helen, Joshua, Bernadette, Brendan, Brigid, Denver, Sandra, Mark, Karen, whoever.- But you should also be what you are as a baptised follower of Jesus - i.e. as another Christ, a second Jesus.

Speaking of Holy Communion, St Augustine in the 400s in North Africa, said many wonderful things about who we are as members, and limbs, cells and organs of the body of Christ. Among other things he said: 'You are what you have received.' In fact the first of the two signs in which we receive him is the sign of bread. In the course of digestion, bread and the person eating it become one. It is assimilated into the body of the one eating it.

So, when we receive him as the Bread of Life for our journey of life, we become ever more one with him. But there’s a big difference. Jesus is not changed into our bodies, into us. No, we are changed into him by becoming a more alive, active and energetic part of his body. This is to say that we are further incorporated into that extension of himself which is his Church - the body of Christians in the world today.

Profound implications follow for living our communion, our being joined and bonded to Christ and one another. These could hardly be better put than in these striking and beautiful words attributed to St Teresa of Avila:

Christ has no body now but yours,

no hands, no feet on earth but yours.

Yours are the eyes through which he looks with compassion on this world.

Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good.

Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.

Yours are the feet. Yours are the eyes. You are his body.

Yes! Christ has no body now but yours,

no hands, no feet on earth but yours.

At his Last Supper, in a stunning way, Jesus acted out his care and concern for, his union and bonding with, his followers. Getting down on his knees like a slave, he went round the gathered group and washed their feet, one by one. It's interesting that in his gospel of the Last Supper, John does not mention the action of Jesus with the bread and wine. Instead he tells us of the action of Jesus with a basin of water and a towel. In this way John tells us the meaning of both actions of Jesus. They are about belonging to one another in the same community of Jesus - the community of faith, hope and love, the community that is the Church. They are about bonding and union with one another, and about humbly serving one another. They are about reaching out with warmth and care, with welcome and hospitality to our neighbour, the neighbour who could hardly be better described than 'the person who at any time needs me, and needs me now – right here, right now’. As Mother Teresa of Calcutta has said so eloquently:

I know you think you should make a trip to Calcutta, but I strongly advise you to save your airfare and spend it on the poor in your own country. It’s easy to love people far away. It’s not always easy to love those who live right next to us. There are thousands of people dying for a bit of bread, but there are thousands more dying for a bit of love or a bit of acknowledgement. The truth is that the worst disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis; it’s being unwanted, it’s being left out, it’s being forgotten.

Love and service, welcome and hospitality, kindness and compassion, self-forgetfulness and generosity, that’s what it means to follow Jesus. That’s what it means to come to Holy Communinon. That’s what it means to live his Last Supper command: ‘Do this in remembrance of me’!

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

 

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Year A: Corpus Christi (Thursday after Trinity Sunday).

(Borrowed from an Anonymous preacher)

"I am the living bread that has come down from heaven."

I think I know how John the Baptist must have felt when everywhere he went people kept asking him "Are you Elijah – come back from the dead?". When I was in South America, everywhere I went, people always used to ask me: "Are you related to Bryan O’Reilly?"

To which I had to respond: "only as brothers in the Lord". It seemed to disappoint them hugely. One couple came to see me from three hundred miles away in Brazil because they had heard that Fr O’Reilly was back in the Amazon and were so disappointed that my first name was Paul, rather than Bryan that they could not even stay to tea.

Even so, it was a great joy to be able to report to Bryan the great love and affection that people in Guyana still felt for him after his many years of service to them as a Jesuit missionary priest. Fame may be a passing bubble, but love is not. After he retired from the Missions (at the age of 82) he went to work in our parish of "Corpus Christi", Bournemouth in England. For the patronal feast of his parish he wrote a short poem for his parish newsletter, expressing something of what it means to him to have served the Eucharist all his life. Believing it worthy of a wider audience, his superior sent it in to our Province Newsletter. And, believing it worthy of a still wider audience I am sharing it with you here.

{For the best effect, take it somewhere quiet on your own and say it slowly and aloud.}

Corpus Christi

All absolutely empty.

Feelings have gone.

I gaze upon the crucifix.

And strive to ponder on the Eucharist.

Thoughts move along to the view

From my window of the church of Corpus Christi.

The garden, the bushes and the trees

A strange vision will appear at times

As I hear the chimes, and these

Remind me of so many things.

Our Lady sings in the breeze

That blows across the garden and the trees

And I listen to a voice that speaks most clearly

"This is my Body – This is the cup of my Blood."

A flood of memories pour into my mind.

The very fabric of my being.

And now I am seeing bright clear

The vision that is mine here – at Corpus Christi.

No one will ever understand – why should they?

Contrition – Compassion – Wish-filled yearning – explains it all.

I hear the call

"Come Lord Jesus – come".

Let us stand and profess our Faith in the Eucharist – the Presence of God in the World.

Dr Paul O’Reilly

<fatbaldnproud@opalityone.net>

 

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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.

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