2015-06-07, Corpus Christi, Washed in the Blood of the Lamb

Homily 06-07-15
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi), B
Ex 24:3-8 ; Ps 116:12-13, 15-16, 17-18; Heb 9:11-15; Mk 14:12-16, 22-26

 (Scriptures included after homily)

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There was something very mysterious about the whole scene we heard in Mark’s Gospel today.  From that covert meeting of the man with the water jar, to the saying of secret, code-words to the house owner, you almost expected to hear next, that “this message will self-destruct in 5-seconds.”  It  just makes us wonder why Jesus didn’t simply tell the disciples that dinner would be held in the upper room, at 7th and Vine Streets.

And of course there’s that whole thing with the bread and the wine, and the body and the blood.

And you know what?  We’ve all heard it so many times, that we don’t even think about it any more.  But maybe we should.

Think about it,

suppose we had a non-Catholic, or even a non-Christian friend or relative visiting; and we took them here to Mass with us.  Which is, by the way, perfectly OK to do!  How WOULD we, or maybe even, COULD we – explain to them, everything that they were about to see and hear? . . .

From the Water dipping, to the Sign of the Cross.  From the Man stripped and impaled with stakes in his hands and feet, hanging in front of us,  to the Sitting, and the Standing, and the Kneeling . . .

Could we really explain it all?

And then there’s that whole thing with the funny looking potato chips and the wine, and why they (our visitors) don’t even get any?

And all that talk about Blood . . .  Washed in the blood, Sprinkled with the blood, Drinking the blood, and Eating the flesh.  It all just sounds like a pretty gruesome horror movie!  And, you know what? It really is!

But WE also know – that the ending of this Story is more Glorious than any movie that’s ever been made – and WE are in it!

So where do we start?

Well, probably the best place to start is “In the Beginning.”  In the very first few words of the Bible, we are introduced to God, our Creator.  We are introduced to the first Waters of the Earth, and to the Wind of the Holy Spirit.

The waters cleanse us.  They keep us hydrated and alive.  They cool us when we’re hot.  They heal us when we’re sick.  And they make up about 50% of the volume of our LIFE-BLOOD, without which, we CANNOT live.

And so, when we walk into Church, we remind ourselves of the importance of Water in our lives.  And how the Holy Spirit of God entered into these lives of ours through our Baptismal Waters.

So then, when we think about it again, maybe it was significant: that the man,
the disciples were seeking, was carrying a “jar of water!”

And maybe it IS significant that the priest cleanses his hands with water,
here at the Altar.  And maybe it’s even significant, that when the deacon adds a few drops of Water to the pitcher, or flagon, of Wine, he silently says the prayer:

“By the mystery of this water and wine, may we come to share in the Divinity
of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity.”

Because, as the Water represents the Human, the ordinary nature of Christ and of us, the Wine represents the Divine, the extraordinary nature of Jesus, of God.

And together,
we are United as One!

Then, as that Bible Story continues, we learn that this God, our Creator, LOVES us so extremely much, that He would do just about anything FOR us.  He guides us with His Words, that teach us how to get the very most out of life.  And yet, He would never force us to Listen, or to Learn from Him; that is purely up to us, because He has given us – this wonderful Gift of Free-Will.

So, as we stumbled and fell because of our failure to listen to His guidance, we seemed to constantly want to go back to God with our apologies.  It makes us wonder: how we, mere mortals, could possibly apologize to Almighty God, with anything more meaningful than just words?

Well, knowing that – the most important thing to God – is Life.
And, knowing that – the most important thing to Life – is its BLOOD.
We’ve come to validate or ratify the sincerity of our apologies to God,
by offering back to Him – BLOOD . . .

Blood, poured out on altars.
Blood, sprinkled on people.
And Blood, trampled through, with bare feet,
all to validate our sincerity.

And so it was – Blood – that cleansed us of our sins against God, and against
one another.  It was blood that validated our Covenant Promises with God.

You see, it truly was – the “Blood of Life.”

And all that blood would come from perfectly unblemished sheep, and goats, and bulls, that were sacrificed to God, and then eaten, for food by the priests.

Well, as time went on, God’s people got themselves so far off track, that they all wound up as slaves to the rich and sophisticated nation of Egypt.  For 400-years they suffered.  Until finally, God found a messenger, that He could use – to free them.  His name was Moses.

And their Freedom came with a Sign.  It was a sign of Death and a sign of New Life.  Death came to the unbelievers.  And it also came to those perfectly unblemished, sacrificial Lambs, whose Blood marked the doorposts of God’s chosen people, and whose Flesh was eaten – as their last meal – in captivity.

And as that ‘angel of death’ passed over their bloodied homes, the moms and the dads, the daughters, and the first-born sons were all given a New Lease on Life.

It was the Passover of the Lord!

And for some 1250-years thereafter, EVERY YEAR, the Jewish people would reenact that Passover meal in commemoration of their Exodus from slavery in Egypt – under the Mighty Hand of God.

And they would eat – the flat cakes of Unleavened Bread that signified the haste of their exit.

And they would drink from the Four Cups, the Wine that signified God’s blessings of their Deliverance and Redemption, and of God’s Possession and Lordship of them.  Lambs would be sacrificed, and Blood would be offered.  And God would make a Covenant Promise with His people, that as long as they stayed Faithful to Him, He would keep them safeAnd that Covenant would be ratified, as we heard in our First Reading, with Blood!

By the Time of Jesus, the historian Josephus, tells us, that in Jerusalem, there would be some 250,000 Lambs sacrificed at any single Passover; all done for the atonement of sins, and in remembrance of God’s Holy Covenant.

And then it happened!

God came and walked among us.  And He was given the Name, Jesus.  And Jesus was LOVE incarnate:  Love to Help the helpless.  Love to Forgive the unforgivable.  Love to Heal the incurable.  Love to Teach.  Love to Guide.  And Love to Hold – EVERYONE!

Flesh and Blood, Human and Divine,
Jesus is our God, and Jesus is our brother.

And in His presence with us, there would be – ONLY ONE – final and definitive Passover Sacrifice that would mark a New Covenant between God and ALL mankind.

It would be sealed in the very Blood of Jesus Himself – for the atonement of ALL of our sins, “once, for all.”  And it would offer the promise of Eternal Life to ALL who believe.

Jesus is that perfect and unblemishedLamb of God, whose Blood would wash us clean, and whose Flesh would heal our souls.

And just as that First Passover came with a Sign of remembrance, so too, this New Covenant, instituted by Jesus, comes with a Sign.

For where the unleavened, Passover Bread represented the Exodus, and the Old Covenant, our funny little unleavened wafers now become the Living Flesh of Jesus, for the Life of the world.  His Life broken and given for all.

And where the Four Cups of Wine represented God’s blessings in delivering and redeeming Israel from their bondage, our ONE Cup, now becomes the Living Blood of Jesus for our own Spiritual Salvation.

It’s just hard to imagine ANYONE – not craving to partake in this Holy offering of the Blood of Jesus – given to us.

This Most Blessed Sacrament, our Holy Eucharist, IS the ‘Source and Summit’
of our entire Faith.  Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, Jesus enters into our lives both Physically and Spiritually.  And through Him, we become One Body and One Spirit. Together, IN Him.

Together.
In Thanksgiving.
For Eternity.
That’s our Eucharist.

And that’s an ending, or actually, a New Beginning,
available to Everyone,
just for the asking!

jmp 06-07-15
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Scripture Readings for the Mass of 06-07-15
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
(Corpus Christi)

First ReadingEx 24:3-8

When Moses came to the people and related all the words and ordinances of the LORD, they all answered with one voice, “We will do everything that the LORD has told us.”

Moses then wrote down all the words of the LORD and, rising early the next day, he erected at the foot of the mountain an altar and twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel.

Then, having sent certain young men of the Israelites to offer holocausts and sacrifice young bulls as peace offerings to the LORD, Moses took half of the blood and put it in large bowls; the other half he splashed on the altar.

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.”

Responsorial Psalm:  Ps 116:12-13, 15-16, 17-18

R. I will take the cup of salvation, and call on the name of the Lord.
How shall I make a return to the LORD for all the good he has done for me? The cup of salvation I will take up, and I will call upon the name of the LORD.

R. I will take the cup of salvation, and call on the name of the Lord.
Precious in the eyes of the LORD is the death of his faithful ones. I am your servant, the son of your handmaid; you have loosed my bonds.

R. I will take the cup of salvation, and call on the name of the Lord.
To you will I offer sacrifice of thanksgiving, and I will call upon the name of the LORD.  My vows to the LORD I will pay in the presence of all his people.

R. I will take the cup of salvation, and call on the name of the Lord.

Second Reading:  Heb 9:11-15

Brothers and sisters: When Christ came as high priest of the good things that have come to be, passing through the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made by hands, that is, not belonging to this creation, he entered once for all into the sanctuary, not with the blood of goats and calves but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.

For if the blood of goats and bulls and the sprinkling of a heifer’s ashes can sanctify those who are defiled so that their flesh is cleansed, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to worship the living God.

For this reason he is mediator of a new covenant: since a death has taken place for deliverance from transgressions under the first covenant, those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance.

SequenceLauda Sion

Laud, O Zion, your salvation,
Laud with hymns of exultation,
Christ, your king and shepherd true:

Bring him all the praise you know,
He is more than you bestow.
Never can you reach his due.

Special theme for glad thanksgiving
Is the quick’ning and the living
Bread today before you set:
From his hands of old partaken,
As we know, by faith unshaken,
Where the Twelve at supper met.

Full and clear ring out your chanting,
Joy nor sweetest grace be wanting,
From your heart let praises burst:

For today the feast is holden,
When the institution olden
Of that supper was rehearsed.

Here the new law’s new oblation,
By the new king’s revelation,
Ends the form of ancient rite:

Now the new the old effaces,
Truth away the shadow chases,
Light dispels the gloom of night.

What he did at supper seated,
Christ ordained to be repeated,
His memorial ne’er to cease:

And his rule for guidance taking,
Bread and wine we hallow, making
Thus our sacrifice of peace.

This the truth each Christian learns,
Bread into his flesh he turns,
To his precious blood the wine:

Sight has fail’d, nor thought conceives,
But a dauntless faith believes,
Resting on a pow’r divine.

Here beneath these signs are hidden
Priceless things to sense forbidden;
Signs, not things are all we see:

Blood is poured and flesh is broken,
Yet in either wondrous token
Christ entire we know to be.

Whoso of this food partakes,
Does not rend the Lord nor breaks;
Christ is whole to all that taste:

Thousands are, as one, receivers,
One, as thousands of believers,
Eats of him who cannot waste.

Bad and good the feast are sharing,
Of what divers dooms preparing,
Endless death, or endless life.

Life to these, to those damnation,
See how like participation
Is with unlike issues rife.

When the sacrament is broken,
Doubt not, but believe ‘tis spoken,
That each sever’d outward token
doth the very whole contain.

Nought the precious gift divides,
Breaking but the sign betides
Jesus still the same abides,
still unbroken does remain.

Gospel: Mk 14:12-16, 22-26

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 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.

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