Solemnity of the Most Holy
Body and Blood of Christ
A Homily - Cycle B - 2011-2012
by Fr. Luke Dundon
First Reading - Exodus 24:3-8
Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 116:12-13, 15-16, 17-18
Second Reading - Hebrews 9:11-15
Gospel - Mark 14:12-16, 22-26
Mark wrote to explain Christ
to the new Gentile converts.
On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, Jesus' disciples said to him, "Where do you want us to go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?" He sent two of his disciples and said to them, "Go into the city and a man will meet you carrying a jar of water. Follow him. wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, 'The Teacher says, "Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?'" Then he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready. Make the preparations for us there." The disciples then went off, entered the city, and found it just as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover.
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 they all drank from it. He said to them, "This is my blood of the the covenant, which will be shed for many. Amen, I say to you, I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God." Then, after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
I was just at an amazing event. The ordination of three new priests for our diocese, it’s a GOOD DAY for Arlington! But, especially poignant in the ordination Mass was a moment where the three ordinandi got down on their knees, and then lay down on the floor. Just like you see on Good Friday. They get down as LOW AS POSSIBLE, to show that they are offering EVERYTHING THEY HAVE to the Lord and His people, even their very lives. Similarly, when a couple wed each other, they promise to be faithful and true to each other, to love and to cherish each other, to give EVERYTHING THEY HAVE to each other, even their very lives, if need be. GIVING EVERYTHING YOU HAVE - - - we see it in the Super Bowl, the Summer Olympics, the Winter Olympics, we see it at an ordination and a wedding!!! GIVING EVERYTHING YOU HAVE - - - it’s one of the most amazing things we can do as humans, and we LOVE IT! We’re DESIGNED to love it. And what is a good symbol of giving of one’s life totally? What is a good representation of the innermost life of a person? Something that I never like the sight of when I was younger . . . something that, when I saw it, I instinctively KNEW that it wasn’t normal to see, even a little strange to see . . . the sight of BLOOD – it’s all in the readings today.
The sight of blood for the Chosen People was also a sign that was meant to STAND OUT, it was meant to show a total gift of one to the other, in a COVENANT, the most personal of relationships. For it was THROUGH BLOOD that Moses established a covenant between the Lord and the people. But it only helped so much. This was a covenant between GOD (up) and His (down) people! We would need better blood than from a BULL in order to solidify the TOTAL OFFERING . . . nothing less than the blood from God’s own SON would do. Jesus’ own body and blood sealed this covenant between God and man. God loved us so much, that He didn’t spare His OWN SON’S body and blood, in order to restore the friendship. Yes, God established a covenant that would last FOREVER, a covenant that would SHOW His complete gift of love for us for ALL TIME . . . and how does it continue? Through the words of Jesus, which still reverberate through time and space - - - for, through the hands of the priest, He STILL takes BREAD and says, “This is my Body, - - - given up for YOU!” Through the hands of the priest, He STILL takes wine and says, “This is the chalice of my Blood, POURED OUT, for YOU!” COMPLETE OFFERING OF SELF . . . through, not just a SYMBOL, but the REALITY, of Body and Blood offered to us from our gifts of Bread and Wine.
This Summer we will be hearing a series of Gospel readings at Mass which cover Jesus’ Bread of Life discourse in the sixth chapter of John. I am the Bread of Life. My flesh is REAL FOOD. My blood, REAL DRINK. The Eucharist, Jesus’ Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity!!! God can’t GIVE any more than that! Today, God fulfills HIS end of the bargain by saying, HERE! I give myself to you completely! So the question is, do we REALLY believe it?
In a small town in Italy, there is a Eucharistic host in a monstrance. 1200 years ago, this host was once held by a priest at Mass who was doubting the Real Presence of Christ as He was holding it in his hands offering the Prayer of Consecration. And so, what happened? That host turned into tissue. It dripped blood. The chalice turned to blood! And so, naturally it wasn’t consume, but it WAS hailed as a miracle, a reminder from God, to remind us of what and WHO the Eucharist always is. Tests in 1970 revealed that the flesh is myocardial muscle - - - heart tissue! The blood is human, belonging to type AB, same as the blood on the Shroud of Turin. The hemoglobin in the blood of the tissue indicates that it is fresh, as if just drawn from a live person! . . . Lest we forget, this is not just a symbol of offering one’s life, God IS OFFERING HIS WHOLE LIFE TO US!!!
When the priest finishes the prayer of consecration, he proclaims, The Mystery of Faith! So again, I ask, DO WE BELIEVE THIS MYSTERY OF FAITH? DO WE REALLY BELIEVE that He is SO TRULY PRESENT to us, in His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity? If so, then we’d better be ready to respond to this COVENANT, and LIVE UP to this relationship. A new husband and wife BOTH NEED to respond with “I do;” THEN, those two words mean EVERYTHING to them both. We give OUR “I do” by saying “Amen,” which means, “I believe.” May we say it like we MEAN it. We believe, Lord, even if we cannot SEE you so clearly . . . St. Thomas Aquinas wrote a poem, “Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived; How says trusty hearing? That shall be believed; What God’s Son has told me, take for truth I do; Truth Himself speaks truly, or there’s nothing true.” His Word IS true, and HIS offering is COMPLETE; there’s only one thing left to do WE need to respond! May OUR response help to ratify and seal this covenant, as WE come up, and offer OURSELVES completely to HIM, disposed and ready, as we make our reply today. YES, Lord! I BELIEVE! AMEN!