Friday, June 5, 2015

The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ Year B

Readings: Exodus 24:3-8; Hebrews 9: 11-15; Mark 14:12-16, 22-26

On the evening of the last day of his visit to the United States, October 2005, Pope John Paul II was scheduled to greet the seminarians at Saint Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, Maryland. It had been a very full day that would end with a quick stop at the Seminary. The schedule was tight. The plan was simply to greet the seminarians while they stood outside on the steps. But the Pope decided to first make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament. When his wishes were made known, security flew into action. They swept the building paying close attention to the chapel where the Pope would be praying. For this purpose highly trained dogs were used to detect any person who might be present. The dogs are trained to locate survivors in collapsed buildings after earthquakes and other disasters. These highly intelligent and eager dogs quickly went through the halls, offices and classrooms and were then sent to the chapel. They went up and down the aisle, past the pews and finally into the side chapel where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved. Upon reaching the tabernacle, the dogs sniffed, whined, and refused to leave, their attention focused on the tabernacle, until they were called by their handlers. They were convinced that they discovered someone there.

I tell this true story because while some Catholics doubt the real presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, those dogs sensed a real, live Person in the tabernacle! The Gospel from Mark on the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper not only underlines God’s covenant sealed with the Blood of His Son, but also the unity brought about by the sharing in the Eucharistic meal. The Eucharist is therefore a great sign of unity and communion with Christ and with one another. In 2005, Pope John Paul II reminded us that “The criterion by which the authenticity of our Eucharistic celebrations is judged, will be our mutual love and in particular our concern for those in need”. Our celebration of the Eucharist cannot be divorced from the injustices around us. “The Eucharist commits us to the poor” says the Catechism, 1397. Pope Francis draws our attention to the link between our faith and the poor. “We have to state, without mincing words, that there is an inseparable bond between our faith and the poor. May we never abandon them”, Joy of the Gospel, #48. The Catechism, #1397 also teaches that, “To receive in truth the Body and Blood of Christ given up for us, we must recognize Christ in the poorest, his brethren.” Therefore stewardship as a way of life takes this social aspect of the Holy Eucharist seriously. Dynamic Catholics share their time, talent and treasure to care for brothers and sisters in need both locally and globally. So what message do we take home this Sunday? 1). To receive the Body and Blood of Christ authentically, we must recognize Christ in our brothers and sisters in need. 2) The celebration of the Eucharist cannot be divorced from the injustices around us because at its very heart, the Eucharist is a proclamation of social justice. 3) The Eucharistic event is the most powerful language Jesus has spoken to us, but the power of that language can easily be lost if we neglect its practical application on the social level. Therefore, at the end of Holy Mass we are sent to become bread broken and drink poured for others.

©2015 John S. Mbinda

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