By Fr Dumisani Mazibuko OSM
This Sunday we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. In this Mass we celebrate the REAL PRESENCE of the Body and Blood of the Lord. We recall the Last Supper when Jesus sat at table with His Apostles and out of unconditional love, offered His very self as Body and Blood to the Apostles, “Take it, this my body”. By this act of self-giving, Jesus left us an everlasting memory of Himself. And therefore, as a Church, we celebrate His PRESENCE amongst us. Through the Sacrament of the Most Holy Body and Blood, Jesus is not only present to us, but nourishes us with his very Body and Blood and strengthens us in holiness.
Liturgically, this Feast is celebrated on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, but in countries where it is not a holy day of obligation, it is celebrated the following Sunday. At the end of the Mass, there is a procession of the Most Blessed Sacrament displayed in monstrance and hymns to the Blessed Sacrament are sung. A Benediction, that a blessing with the Blessed Sacrament concludes the whole celebration.
1st Reading Exodus 24:3-8
Our first reading is from the book of Exodus, a book that tells the story of how the people of Israel exited or better, moved out of the Egypt under the leadership of Moses. As they move toward the Promised Land, God enters into a Covenant with them. Now, a Covenant is an eternal, a perpetual agreement between two people. The culmination of the Covenant is symbolized by the erection of an Altar where the people of Israel pledge themselves to obey the commandment of God. Moses casts the people with blood from the sacrifice using the words we read of in the gospel of Mark, “This is the blood of the Covenant”. The Covenant God enters into with His chosen people is not just a verbal agreement. God binds Himself entirely to His people. He wants to be eternally among them, He wants to journey with them in their entire journey towards the Promised Land. And He remains faithful to that Covenant even in our time. He is present to us in most mysterious way. We ask ourselves these questions: Have we remained faithful to Him and his commandments? Do we observe His laws daily? Do we observe our baptismal promises daily? How best can we keep this Covenant alive in our lives today?
2nd Reading Hebrews 9:11-15
The second reading, which is from the letter to the Hebrews, renders what Jesus has done for us in a deep way. THE BLOOD OF CHRIST HAS WON AN ETERNAL REDEMPTION FOR US ALL. This is not brought about by the blood of goats or any other animal BUT , by the blood of Jesus ALONE. And this HE has done once and for all. The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is enough for all of us. He is the perfect sacrifice, the ultimate sacrifice that purifies us from sin. Jesus ushered a new era for us through His very birth, word and death on the cross. Indeed He ushered a new Covenant, an everlasting Covenant. By virtue of being the High priest, His sacrifice completes, supersedes all sacrifices of the Old Testament.
Gospel Mark 14:12-16, 22—26
In the gospel we the extent of how much Jesus loved his Apostles and the world. He loved them to the point of giving his very self in an unselfish way. Take it, he said, this is my body. We read in the gospel of John where it says, “no one can have greater love than to it for his friends”. In this Sunday’s gospel, Jesus lays down his life for his people. He gives His body and blood unreservedly. Jesus had already shared his love during His ministry, He had cured the sick, the crippled, fed the people on the mountain, raised the dead, and had announced advent of the Kingdom of God. Having done all that, he goes ahead in the gospel to OFFER His body and Blood. It is worth remembering that the Passover was an important Feast to the Jews. It was a Feast in which they remembered the night God delivered them from slavery under the Egyptian nation. And on this night, Jesus takes the Unleavened Bread and says it is His Body and the Wine his Blood. And in a particular way, we focus our attention on this gift that Jesus left among us, the gift of Hos and Blood. He indeed is God among us as Prophet Isiah said when foretold of His coming. We adore Him in the Blessed Sacrament for we believe that He is REALLY PRESENT. A few reflection questions: How can our adoration of God’s presence influence or direct our spirituality today? How best can this Feast transform/improve our interpersonal relationships, perceptions? What does it mean for us today, for you, for me to have Jesus offer Himself in this manner and receive Him? Does it mean anything at all? I believe it does in so many ways.