“This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
For the past few Sundays, the Church has been reminding us of the passionate love God has for us and the many gifts he has given to help us abide (rest) in him. First was the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, where God sent his Holy Spirit to teach us and guide us. Last Sunday was the celebration of the Holy Trinity where we were reminded of the sacred mystery of three distinct persons in one God, loving us unceasingly.
This Sunday, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ—the everlasting gift Jesus gave to us at the Last Supper so that he could physically dwell within us. Our readings this Sunday offer two events that prefigure the Holy Eucharist - one Old Testament and one New Testament. Also, the earliest written account of the institution of the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper.
Our First reading is from the Book of Genesis (Gn 14:18-20)
. It is an account of Abram’s successful battle with four kings in order to rescue his nephew Lot from captivity. To celebrate the success, Melchizedek, the priest / king of Salem (later to become Jerusalem) offered a sacrifice of bread and wine. Melchizedek is seen as a prefiguring of Christ and the Eucharist. You may have heard the term, “You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.”
In those days, Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine, and being a priest of God Most High, he blessed Abram with these words: "Blessed be Abram by God Most High, the creator of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who delivered your foes into your hand." Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
In our Epistle reading (1 Corinthians 11:23-26),
we hear the first recorded account of the institution of the Holy Eucharist by Jesus at the Last Supper. Saint Paul describes for us the words Jesus used and how the practice of the Eucharistic meal had been handed down to all Christians. This was Jesus’ gift of himself to us, to ensure that he would always be really and substantially present to us—in body, blood, soul and divinity. These same words are often heard in the sacrifice of the Mass.
Brothers and sisters: I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, "This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.
In our Gospel reading (Luke 9:11B-17)
, we hear St. Luke’s account of the feeding of the five thousand. Luke tells us of Jesus’ compassion and love for the people. In these words of Jesus, we hear another prefiguring of the Holy Eucharist, “looking up to heaven, he said the blessing over them, broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. They all ate and were satisfied.”
Jesus spoke to the crowds about the kingdom of God, and he healed those who needed to be cured. As the day was drawing to a close, the Twelve approached him and said, "Dismiss the crowd so that they can go to the surrounding villages and farms and find lodging and provisions; for we are in a deserted place here." He said to them, "Give them some food yourselves." They replied, "Five loaves and two fish are all we have, unless we ourselves go and buy food for all these people." Now the men there numbered about five thousand. Then he said to his disciples, "Have them sit down in groups of about fifty." They did so and made them all sit down. Then taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing over them, broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. They all ate and were satisfied. And when the leftover fragments were picked up, they filled twelve wicker baskets.
The Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist, like any blessing, can be taken for granted, even at times seem routine. How often do we ponder the awesome gift and blessing there is in Communion with God? How often do we give thought to the real, true presence of Jesus entering our bodies and our souls. Some people think it impossible for bread and wine to be changed into the body and blood of Christ. To this, St. Ambrose once said, “If the word of the Lord Jesus is so powerful as to bring into existence things which were not, then a portion of those things which already exist can be changed into something else" Perhaps we can simply be thankful that we have been reminded of how much God loves us and wants us to be like him.
- Click HERE to read, reflect, pray on the scripture readings for this Sunday