|by Angela (Lambert) Jendro
June 3rd, 2018 4th Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
Gospel of Mark 14:12-16, 22-26 NAB
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.
At the Mount of Olives, on the night before His death, Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. His final prayer to the Father begged for us to be one in Jesus, as Jesus is one with the Father. Considering the sublime and mysterious unity of the Blessed Trinity, what a profound request! Christ invites us into their eternal bond of love and union of mind and will, and He asks the Father to make it possible.
|“I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me.” John 17:20-23 NAB
Jesus asserts that He gave us His glory that we might be one with Him, and therefore also one with the Father. How did He do this? What does He mean?
The Eucharist. Jesus had just given His apostles His Eucharistic Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. Every time we receive Christ in the Eucharist, we become one in Him, sharers in His glory.
When we eat regular bread and wine our bodies digest them into smaller component parts so that the nutrients within can be absorbed by the cells for energy, growth, repair, etc. Thus, after an hour or so, the toast you ate for breakfast is no longer toast but simply part of you.
In the Eucharist, the opposite process takes place. Rather than being incorporated into our body, we become incorporated into Christ’s Body. We become constituent parts which build up, energize, and repair and the Mystical Body of Christ – the Church. Thus, our nutritional value (love of God and neighbor) edifies the whole body, and our toxins (sin) harm it.
In addition, think about our inherent investment in “blood relatives.” We take pride in their accomplishments and feel shame in their failures, even if our physical ancestral connection is our only tie. Christ has made the family of the Church blood relatives through His own Body and Blood. We take pride in the virtue of the Saints and feel deeply hurt and saddened when a Christian falls into a terrible sin like we’ve seen with the recent clergy abuse scandal.
In addition, knowing the genetic history of our blood relatives can be enlightening since their strengths are our strengths and their weaknesses our weaknesses. Jesus became our blood relative at the Incarnation and willingly accepted the weakness of our human nature. In return however, He bestowed on us something of the strength and glory of His divine nature. When we receive Him in the Eucharist, we are strengthened by His Real Presence, by deeper union with His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, we become grafted onto Him and elevated by His relation to us.
“But how can this be?” you might ask. It’s a mystery. We know it’s true because Jesus said “This is My Body, this is My Blood…” and He promised, and warned, in John 6:51-53:
|I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us [his] flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.
Although certainly a sublime mystery, on what grounds can a Christian believer doubt that God Who created everything out of nothing couldn’t change bread and wine into His Real Presence? Recall in Genesis that God created by speaking: “Then God said: Let there be light, and there was light.” Genesis 1:3. God created with a Word, and that Word of God is the Son – Jesus Christ. In addition, if God could daily provide miraculous bread to feed the Israelites during their journey through the desert to the Promised Land, why wouldn’t He provide bread from Heaven for our even more difficult journey through the desert of temptations and suffering in this life on our journey to Heaven?
Today, on the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, we meditate on the unimaginable gift of love bestowed on us in the Eucharist by which we become one with Jesus, and through Him one with God and neighbor.
- Consider the special union of love in families which is both a physical and spiritual union. Reflect on the union of love between Christ and His disciples physically and spiritually in the Eucharist.
- Consider how you feel when you eat healthy foods and get enough rest. How might receiving the Eucharist more often boost your spiritual energy and health as well?
- Reflect on the humility and intimacy of Christ’s love for you. He became man – sharing in your human nature, lived an earthly life for 33 years – sharing your experiences, and continues to be physically present to you in the Eucharist today where you can be near to Him in prayer and one with Him when you receive Him at Mass.
- Consider how spending time with family can keep you grounded and more who you really are. Reflect on how time with Christ purifies your perspective and grounds you as well.
Make a Resolution (Practical Application):
- Arrive at Mass 5 minutes early to prepare your heart and mind for receiving Christ in the Eucharist, and/or stay for 5 minutes after Mass to pray and thank Christ for receiving Him in the Eucharist.
- Spend 30 minutes with Christ in prayer at Eucharistic Adoration.
~ Written by Angela Jendro © 2018
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