June 6, 2021
by Eileen Burke-Sullivan
Creighton University's Division of Mission and Ministry
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
Psalm 116:12-13, 15-16, 17-18
Hebrews 9:11-15
Mark 14:12-16, 22-26

Praying Ordinary Time

For those celebrating the 10th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Pope Francis Angelus homily on the Trinity in 2018

As we celebrate the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ this year, I am mindful of the tremendous deprivation that Catholics have experienced over the last 15 months, at least in our part of the United States.  A deprivation of celebration of the Eucharist and especially its culmination in the meal of the gifts of consecrated Bread and Wine that bind us so closely to one another as the Body of Christ.   Unable to gather in person, sing the praises of God, hear the word proclaimed in person, and of course sharing in the mystery of death and resurrection through the pattern that Jesus gave us in his meal ministry of reconciliation have all been the elements of this sacrifice.

Indeed, many parishes across this country watched the actual celebration of the Eucharist by a priest and possibly a small group of masked ministers through the electronic medium of video.  But observing the celebration by a priest at a distance and physically participating in the Eucharist together are as different as observing a group of friends or colleagues eat a delicious meal in the house while we stand outside looking in the window.  Technology can assist us a way of  hearing the word proclaimed, but whether we said prayers along with the priest or simply listened to him say the words of Consecration, we were not celebrating the Eucharist, we were watching someone “say” the words and consume the food – all of it – while we looked on starving.

Later in the COVID Pandemic it was possible by observing social distancing, and wearing masks, to care for God’s people and begin to return to the Eucharist in small assemblies.  Still missing however, was the wondrous gift of consuming each of the forms of Eucharist (Consecrated Bread and Consecrated Wine).  This action of Eating and Drinking the has not always been well understood or practiced, but each of the forms of the Eucharist (both Bread and Wine) help us to enter the mystery both differently and more fully.

Today’s first reading from the Book of Exodus gives us ancient background for the importance of the Precious Blood as its own form of Eucharist. The passage recounts how Moses sends members of the people to slaughter cattle for a feast.  The blood was taken from the animals, and Moses used it to ritually connect the table of the Feast (God) with the food sacrificed (the ordinary life resources of the community).

The Second Reading from the Book of Hebrews states clearly that Jesus took on the role of the Blood (that which bound the community to God) in His Divine and human personhood.  Thus, we don’t sacrifice the blood of animals now, but we offer the daily life of our hands in the forms of bread and wine.  God takes that gift and unites it perfectly to Jesus’ sacrifice of his own life cross for the salvation of the Many. If we have been Baptized into the Body of Christ then we must serve the world in the way that Jesus did and does through us, united together by our priest presider.

Finally, the Gospel of Mark witnesses to the last supper and what Jesus and the disciples were saying and doing.  Take and eat; take and drink – Christ’s Body and the Blood of the Covenant to do God’s Will.

Today it is clear that for the good of all of God’s people it was necessary that we deprive ourselves of participation in the Eucharist for however long we had to. Other means of giving our lives in service for the sake of “the many” were practiced by those who wore masks, remained socially distant and exercised other required or recommended precautions.  Being vaccinated, when health allows it, is one more step toward reverencing the whole Body of Christ.  Furthermore, it is the means by which we will be able to be fully restored to the community’s practice of the Eucharist by Eating and Drinking that Jesus invited us to in the Last Supper. 

Click on the link below to send an e-mail response
to the writer of this reflection.

Sharing this reflection with others by Email, on Facebook or Twitter:

Email this pageFacebookTwitter

Print Friendly

See all the Resources we offer on our Online Ministries Home Page

Daily Reflection Home

Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook