Sunday, 6/3/2018, The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
The Israelites Make the Covenant
With Moses acting as an intercessor on behalf of the Israelites and as a mediator between the LORD and the Israelites, a covenant (a binding contract) was made between the LORD and the Israelites. But if we take a close look at how the people made the covenant with the LORD, we see connections to Christ, the Mass and the book of Revelation.
Moses had young men make burnt offerings. In Revelation 8:3-4, the smoke of incense goes up before God with the prayers of the holy ones. This is one of the reasons why incense is used in the Catholic Church. It is the joining together of the prayers of the congregation and those prayers are lifted up to God as one in smoke.
Young bulls were sacrificed as peace offerings to the Lord. The Son became flesh and allowed Himself to be sacrificed on the cross as a peace offering to the Father in atonement for our sins. The covenant was sealed by Moses sprinkling the blood on the people. Christ made a new covenant promising the Kingdom of Heaven and sealed it with His own blood which He shed on the cross and which He made available to us in the Eucharist.
Consider too, the words that Moses used in comparison to what Christ said at the Last Supper and what the priest says at Mass before the distribution of the Eucharist. Moses said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you…” At the Last Supper, Jesus said, "This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many." At Mass, the priest says, “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world…”
Moses erected an altar with twelve pillars representing the twelve tribes. The twelve pillars also represent the twelve Apostles, who were the first priests and bishops of the Church. In Revelation 5:4, there are twenty-four other thrones on which the elders sat dressed in white garments and with gold crowns on their heads. These elders are the twelve leaders of the tribes of Israel and the twelve Apostles.
Where am I going with all of these connections? I spent almost all of my life not knowing that there were so many connections between the Israelites, events in the life of Christ where He was actually reliving the Old Testament and the book of Revelation. I believe that few people do outside of the clergy and the religious.
Christ made things new so that we might reach His Kingdom. Today's gospel gives us an opportunity to think about where we are going but we cannot do that if we do not know where we are coming from. The Old Testament is where we are coming from, the Kingdom of Heaven as described in the book of Revelation is where we are headed and by way of the Gospels; the Light of Christ shows us the way.
The Most-Happy Sacrament
What is the most-happy sacrament? It is the sacrament that makes all of the others possible. It was not the first to be instituted but without it, there would be no new covenant. And yet it is also the one that many Christians merely re-enact as opposed to reliving. Non-Christians do not even accept the most-happy of all sacraments.
It bares several titles: Communion, Holy Communion, the Eucharist and the Most Blessed Sacrament. Blessed, meaning happy or holy and happy or happy in heaven.
Because God, our Creator, loves us so much, the Father sent the Son and the Son was most-happy to shed His blood for our sake. Christ promised us the Kingdom of Heaven when He gave us the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-12. Christ made that promise the new covenant replacing the old covenant and sealed it with His Blood on the cross.
All throughout the Old Testament, we see that whenever a covenant was made, blood was shed at the altar. But when Christ came to make all things new and to make a new covenant with us, He shed His own blood so that no other blood would ever have to be shed. With His blood, there would be no more bloodshed. Christ took all of the sins of the world to the cross and His covenant with us is eternal.
Christ was most-happy to make Himself the sacrifice that would seal the new covenant because through His Precious Body and Blood, the Eucharist, He places us in communion with Him. We should be most-happy when we receive the Eucharist because when we do; we accept the new covenant and we are placing ourselves in communion with the Son, God, in a physical way.
This is why the Eucharist is the Most-Happy sacrament and why it should be relived, not simply re-enacted.
Bread and Wine—Body and Blood
Today’s gospel comes from two excerpts found in the Passion of Christ according to Mark. The first part refers to the preparations for the Passover and the second part refers to the Last Supper.
Jesus sent two of the disciples into the city and instructed them to find a man carrying a jar of water and follow him to where he goes and then tell the master of that establishment that the Teacher needs his guest room where He might have the Passover meal.
Notice that Mark capitalizes the word “Teacher” in his gospel. Notice too, that Christ did not instruct the disciples to ask for a room. He told them to ask where His room was. Christ was instructing the disciples to proclaim His divinity as The Teacher and Christ knew that the master of the place would extend his hospitality.
Was there any meaning to the jar of water that the man would be carrying? Consider this: Christ was on His way to do more than celebrate the Passover with His disciples. He was on His way to the Last Supper where He would make the Twelve His first priests and institute the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Christ was on His way to prepare Himself for what would happen the next day as He would cleanse the world of its sins with His Blood.
Was the jar of water symbolic of the cleansing that was about to take place? I’m just speculating but it is with water that we are cleansed of original sin at baptism. So, the jar of water may have been a sign of things to come.
It is at the Last Supper that Christ took bread, broke it and gave it to the disciples. According to Mark, Christ said, “Take it; this is my body.” It is the words that Christ said according to Luke’s gospel, Luke 22:19 that are said by the priest at Mass, “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.”
With the words, “…do this in memory of me,” Christ gave the authority to the priesthood to consecrate bread and wine into His body and blood. This is why Catholics believe that consecrated bread and wine is the actual living Body and Blood of Christ.
After consecrating the bread into His Body, Christ took the cup and said, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.” The word, “many” could be interpreted to mean: all because Christ did come to save the world from its sins. Christ came and shed His blood for the salvation of everyone no matter who they are or where they come from or how they choose to profess their faith. But faith is the important word there. Those who put their faith in God are the ones who will be saved.
Note that Christ proclaimed His Blood to be the Blood of the Covenant. It is here at the Last Supper that God, the Son, made the New Covenant and Christ fulfilled that Covenant the very next day on the cross at Calvary.
After consecrating the wine, Christ said that He would not drink the fruit of the vine again until He would drink it new in the Kingdom of God.
The disciples did not catch on to this part of what Christ had said to them until later. They did not realize that Christ was telling them that His time had come and that His Body would be given up and that His Blood would be shed the next day. The disciples would not realize the full extent of the Covenant until the events of the next day would unfold and Christ would suffer as the Scriptures had foretold.
We do not have to wait. We know from the gospels exactly what happened. We know that Christ made a New Covenant and kept His part of the contract. It is now up to all of us to do our part so that we can fully enjoy the benefits that are extended to us with the New Covenant.
Because of the New Covenant, the Kingdom of Heaven is ours. All we have to do is follow the Light of Christ in faith.