June 3, 2018
by Tom Shanahan, S.J.
Creighton University's Department of Athletics
click here for photo and information about the writer

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
Lectionary: 168

Exodus 24:3-8
Psalms 116:12-13, 15-16, 17-18
Hebrews 9:11-15
Mark 14:12-16, 22-26

Praying Ordinary Time

For those celebrating the
9th Sunday of Ordinary Time.

Pope Francis on this Feast in
2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2017 | 2018

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

How do I prepare for Mass on Sunday?
Understanding the Mass

Preparing to Receive the Eucharist

Today's solemn feast helps us to celebrate the Holy Communion between us and God as well as God's Holy spirit and the person of Jesus the Christ.  This celebration reminds us of perhaps the most basic of the blessings in the relationship between us and our God.  The most holy Body and Blood of Christ is our primary entrance into the love that God has for us.  Our blessing needs to be a blessing for others, as Jesus' life, death and resurrection is our original blessing.

The feast we enjoy today, formerly known as Corpus Christi, provides the opportunity to discover at a deeper level the reality of our faith in Jesus.  The gospel reading is one of several texts that recount the institution of the eucharist, Christ coming to us under the form of bread and wine. Our belief is that these forms become for us the very Body and the Blood of Christ. Receiving this divine gift becomes a profound entrance into the person of Jesus the Christ, an entrance that continues the profound reality of baptism: we enter into the body of Christ and are challenged to live our lives continually growing even more into that reality.

We celebrate each day Jesus' words of consecration "This is. . .  my Body. . . my Blood."  These words are followed by "do this in memory of me".  Formerly, I understood the meaning of doing this in memory of Jesus, as an invitation to celebrate Jesus' sacrifice on the cross in daily and Sunday masses.

Clearly it does mean that, but it means so much more as well. An article I read some years ago helped me to find a deeper understanding of the biblical "institution" narrative of the eucharist.  in an article on the subject, Fr. Eugene Laverdiere, SSS, speaks of these familiar words as he examines the word this in the words, "do this in remembrance of me." He claims that the this here refers to the action of Jesus, that he is engaged in as he speaks to the disciples gathered in the upper room.

Jesus refers to his body being "given up" and his blood being "poured out" for his disciples.  We are invited to enter into these very actions of Jesus: to give up and to pour out our love and compassion for others; all in imitation of Jesus' words and actions at the last supper.

What an incredible challenge that is.  We do the "giving" and the "pouring" of ourselves primarily in response to God's gift in the person of Jesus who accomplishes these actions by his death and resurrection.  As we are nourished by Our Lord's actions of giving himself over for the salvation of all, we are challenged to respond similarly to others: that we be nourishment for them as Jesus nourishes us with his life, death and resurrection.

Gracious God, be with us as we give ourselves to those in need.  You are the source of our readiness to serve by modeling ourselves Jesus' own service.  Help us to attend to your people with joy knowing that your peace and joy comes back to us in the abundance of your love and grace extended so abundantly to us.

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