Putting Your Sweat and Blood Into It

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Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ

Readings for this Sunday’s Liturgy

Meditation Reflection: Gospel of John 6:51-58

Today we celebrate Christ’s gift of His Body and Blood. Consider the meaning of giving your body to another. Husband and wife express the intimacy and totality of their love in physical unity.  Every new life enters the world through the sacrificial gift of a mother, who offers her body and blood to her child. Fathers invest their sweat and blood in their children as well in the myriad of ways they meet their children’s needs. How many dads have gone to bed after a day of working to provide for their family, playing with their kids, building out part of the house to make room for more kids, or helping to finish their adult child’s basement saying, “my whole-body hurts!”? Even friendship is demonstrated in physical sacrifice. If you’ve ever called on friends to help you move or been the friend who said yes to that call, you know what I mean!

Caravaggio ThomasThe Son of God became man, in every way. He invested His mind and heart, and His body and blood. He desires nearness to us in the most intimate of ways. Jesus spent thirty-three years living humbly, and bringing tangible, immanent love to those He encountered.  His sacrificial suffering and death of the Cross atoned for our sins, giving us new life as children of God for eternity.

grain of wheatJesus instituted the Sacrament of the Eucharist for two reasons.  He established it as a memorial so that His sacrifice on the Cross would be made present again every time the Mass is celebrated so that we might be nourished by its graces. Secondly, because He wants to be as near to us as possible. When we receive the Eucharist at Communion, Jesus offers Himself in the most intimate and loving way, like that of a husband and wife. Through His Eucharistic presence, He continues to be with us in a tangible way.

Human beings need physical closeness, especially when we need comfort in sorrow or in expressions of love. Jesus Christ is, and will forever continue to be, both God and man. It’s easy to take His presence in the Eucharist for granted, especially when it requires the eyes and heart of faith. Today we take time to reflect as a Church on the beautiful and mysterious gift of Christ’s Body and Blood, to cherish our Lord, and to deepen our appreciation for the sweat and blood He puts into His love.

Consider:

  • Consider the many ways we express love physically. Why is physical love so important? How does it create intimacy in relationships?
  • Reflect on Christ’s physical expressions of love – during His hidden life, His public ministry, His sacrifice on the Cross, and His Eucharistic presence today.
  • This year the Solemnity of Christ’s Body and Blood falls the week before Father’s Day and some year’s it lands on Father’s Day. Consider the ways in which dad’s offer their bodies and blood for their family.

Make a Resolution (Practical Application):

  • Visit Christ at Church this week. Spend time in prayer near the tabernacle, or at Eucharistic
  • Make a physical sacrifice of love for someone this week, in appreciation of Christ’s physical sacrifice.

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Blood Relatives

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.

Meditation Reflection:

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:

  • 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.

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~ Written by Angela Jendro © 2018

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