Corpus Christi – Gospel Reflection

The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Mark 14: 12-16. 22-25)

“This is my blood, the blood of the covenant, which is to be poured out for many.”

More often than not, when we speak about the Eucharist, it is about the Bread of Life.  Today’s Readings concentrate on the Eucharist as the Blood of the New Covenant.  A religious covenant was a pact between God and people which was ratified, not with ink on parchment, but with the blood of sacrificed animals.

Today’s First Reading (Exodus 24:3-8) recalls the covenant between God and the Hebrew people, ratified in the sacrifice of many animals, followed by a meal and the sprinkling of people and places with the blood of the animals.

As time went on, the number of sacrificial events multiplied. The Passover of the people from slavery in Egypt to freedom in their own land was the greatest feast in the Jewish calendar.  Thousands of lambs were sacrificed.  It was bedlam in the temple court, something that Jesus even as a boy did not like.  

Today’s Second Reading is from the Letter to the Hebrews, written by a former Jewish priest who had become a Christian. He believed that the death of Christ replaced the sacrifice of animals. “He has entered the sanctuary once and for all, taking with him not the blood of goats and bull calves, but his own blood, having won an eternal redemption for us.”

The Last Supper

Today’s Gospel begins with preparation for the annual celebration when the Passover lambs were sacrificed.  Very early in John’s Gospel, Jesus was identified by John the Baptist as the lamb of God.

At the last supper Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”  He did the same with the cup after supper, and said ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood poured out for you.” (Luke 20: 19-20)

Under the new covenant the multiple sacrifices of the old way have been replaced.  Our side of the covenant is to be Christian, not only in name, but in a real following of Jesus Christ as the way, the truth, and the life.

We come to Mass because we are invited by Jesus who said, “Do this in remembrance of me.”

Before receiving Holy Communion, the celebrant says: “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world.  Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.”

Responding to this awesome invitation, we express how unworthy we are to receive the Lord under our roof.  Yet we trust in God’s mercy.  “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

This cup is the new covenant in my blood poured out for you.”  

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