The Great Gift of the Eucharist
User’s Guide to the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
Sunday, June 3, is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) Sunday. Mass Readings: Exodus 24:3-8; Psalm 116: 12-13, 15-16, 17-18; Hebrews 9:11-15; Mark 14:12-16, 22-26.
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ recalls God’s constant movement toward us and the challenge of our response. The first reading from the Book of Exodus recalls the way Moses ratified the decision of the people of Israel to follow the law of God. Having received God’s ordinances, Moses refers to the blood of young bulls he sacrificed as the “blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you.”
The second reading from the Letter to the Hebrews notes that the new high priest, Christ Jesus, does not use “the blood of goats and calves,” but uses “his own blood.” This is because Jesus is both priest and sacrifice.
What’s more, whereas the sacrifice of Moses would cleanse our flesh, “the blood of Christ” will “cleanse our consciences from dead works to worship the living God.”
The Gospel from St. Mark recalls the very moment of sacrifice, the beginning of the Paschal Mystery, when Jesus institutes the Eucharist. Along with his Body, offered through the bread, Our Lord offer us his Blood, which he refers to as the “blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.” Today we pause to appreciate the great gift that the Eucharist is and what it says about the kind of God we worship.
St. Teresa of Avila once marveled at the vulnerability of Our Lord in the Eucharist. One might be overcome by the chance to meet a king, said St. Teresa. However, it should never be forgotten that the King of the Universe has made himself available to us at all times, in every Catholic church. In every chapter of the story of salvation, Our Lord seeks us out and draws ever closer to us, to be with us in the most radical way in the Eucharist.
Today, as we revel in the unabashed love that the Lord pours on us through his true presence in the Eucharist, let us pray about how we allow this Holy Communion to transform our interactions with each other.
Omar Gutierrez is a permanent deacon in the Archdiocese of Omaha, Nebraska.