Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ*
Genesis 14: 18-20 Psalm 110: 1-4 I Cor. 11:23-26 Luke 9:11b-17
In the first Scripture text for this feast, we meet Melchisedech, king and priest of Salem (now Jerusalem), offering bread and wine to Abram in a gesture of peace. Jesus, Son of Abraham, will bring about the peace of God by his priestly obedience and loving self-offering on the Cross.
Ps. 110 is prayed in the Church’s Evening Prayer every Sunday and Solemnity. The Church understands these verses as referring to God’s acceptance of the sacrificial love of Christ enthroned on the Cross. Jesus the Christ then is called to “sit at the right hand of the Father” as we profess in the Creed.
In I Corinthians 11, St. Paul calls the community then and now to realize that the memory of Christ is more than a recalling of someone past. Through His Spirit alive in believers Christ in the Eucharist unites us now with all believers, past, present and future. To celebrate worthily is to humbly acknowledge and accept the unity to which we are called in Christ. This unity must surpass economic status, political belief, social standing, etc.
The Gospel passage from St. Luke shows us Jesus, the preacher of the kingdom of God made incarnate in the healing of “those who need to be cured.” When the Twelve approach Jesus about dealing with the crowd, he simply says that the disciples should feed the crowd “in the deserted place.” At his insistence, the people are seated in small groups of 50! Then Jesus ”looked up to heaven, said the blessing over the bread (and fish), broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd” who “all ate and were satisfied.” And then the leftovers were gathered up… Awesome.
The profound richness of the Scriptures chosen for this feast dare us to renew our faith and trust in the One who is our “king and shepherd true” in the words of the Sequence. We are also challenged to make our discipleship more than pious words or sentiments by healing those who are in need and feeding the many hungers of the body of Christ, the people of our times. At the same time, we are invited to be in awe of the mystery of God’s love made present and visible to us in the Body and Blood of Christ, the Eucharist.
-Sr. Mary Laura Lesniak, ssmn
*The origins of this feast can be traced back to St. Juliana of Liege, Belgium, who was part of a group of women dedicated to Eucharistic worship in the 13th century. The Sequence, “Lauda Sion”, a meditation and instruction on the Holy Eucharist for the Church of every age, was composed by St. Thomas Aquinas about the year 1264.
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