The Body and Blood of Christ (B)


THE BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST (B) Mark 14: 12-16, 22-26

June 03, 2018

I am the living bread that came down from heaven, says the Lord; whoever eats this bread will live forever“.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta once told that while she visited her homeland, at that time Communist Albania, the country´s dictator had said with pride, “Jesus will never return to Albania while I am in charge.” What he did not know was that the tiny holy nun was carrying the Body of Christ in a Communion pyx pinned to her sari. She said with Christian humor, “Jesus has returned to Albania under the appearance of bread.”

There are some important events in the history of our nations that we must never forget, especially when those moments of life have meant freedom and we observe them year after year. When Jesus wanted us never forget and often celebrate his death and resurrection, he instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist. He wanted us to celebrate this sacrament of his body and blood that he gave us, as a command at the Last Supper: “Do this in memory of me.”

We celebrate the life of the Holy Spirit among us in all our seven sacraments. The Eucharist in special way is the real presence of Christ in the sacrament of his life. We Catholics are privileged to believe in the Eucharist as the bread and wine transformed into the body and blood of the Lord.

The readings from the Book of Exodus, the Letter to the Hebrews and the Gospel today make it clear that taking part in the Eucharist implies a covenant, by which we commit ourselves to the same unselfish love that we find in the life and death of Jesus. Mark tells us that

Jesus instituted the Sacrament of the Eucharist during the Passover meal, which was a key event in Israel history. Jesus celebrated this sacrament as the new Exodus and anticipated in it his own death and rising, as his New Covenant. The meaning of this sacrament is for us, therefore, the liberation from guilt and death, and even from all consequence of sin.

There is a profound link between the Exodus liberation event and the New Covenant at the Last Supper. In our first reading we hear today that when Moses was ordered to renew the alliance, “Taking the book of the covenant, he read it aloud to the people, who answered, ´All that the Lord has said, we will heed and do.´ Then he took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, saying, ´This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words of his.´” Then Mark tells us in the Gospel, “While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, gave it to them, and said, ´Take it; this is my body.´ Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them (…) and said, ´This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.´”

Before he ascended into heaven Jesus promised to his apostles, “I will not leave you orphans” (John 14: 18), and, “I will be with you always until the end of time.” (Matthew 28: 20) He has not failed to keep his word. He is with us in the Eucharist. The species of bread and wine he chose to represent his body and blood are simple and at the same time are symbols of every day food, both for the poor or the rich; bread is part of any meal, and wine is the drink when people are happy and celebrate any important or any daily occasion.

When at the end of the Supper Jesus tells his disciples, “Do this in remembrance of me,” that remembrance was in the context of his liturgical active presence. As the Paschal Mystery was the most significant action in Jesus´ earthly ministry, so our participation in the Holy Eucharist is the most significant moment in our lives as members of the Catholic Church. This command and saving act of Jesus we must never forget but make it always present.

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