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The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ – Year B – OT
Readings: Exo 24:3-8; Heb 9:11-15; Mk 14:12-16, 22-26.
1/ Reading 1 (Exo 24:3-8):
3 Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice, and said, “All the words which the Lord has spoken we will do.” 4 And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord. And he rose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. 5 And he sent young men of the people of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the Lord. 6 And Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he threw against the altar. 7 Then he took the book of the covenant, and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” 8 And Moses took the blood and threw it upon the people, and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”
2/ Reading 2 (Heb 9:11-15):
11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come,[a] then through the greater and more perfect tent[b] (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 he entered once for all into the Holy Place, taking[c] not the blood of goats and calves but his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. 13 For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify your[d] conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
15 Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred which redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant.
3/ Gospel (Mk 14:12-16, 22-26):
12 And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the passover?” 13 And he sent two of his disciples, and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, 14 and wherever he enters, say to the householder, ‘The Teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I am to eat the passover with my disciples?’ 15 And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us.” 16 And the disciples set out and went to the city, and found it as he had told them; and they prepared the passover.
22 And as they were eating, he took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” 23 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. 24 And he said to them, “This is my blood of the[a] covenant, which is poured out for many. 25 Truly, I say to you, I shall not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
26 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
I THEME: Jesus sacrifices His Body and Blood so that we can live.
Each year at most nations in the world, people have a special day called Memorial Day to memorize all the soldiers who died for their countries. These are people who sacrifices themselves by pouring out blood to protect their nation and people from their enemies. In the solemnity of today most Holy and Blood of Christ, we are also dedicated to remember Christ, not only that He sacrificed His Body and Blood to save people from death but also wanted to remain with His people all days until the Last Day by establishing the sacrament of the Eucharist. He can do these because He has power and loves people.
Today readings report God’s love for people through all things He has done to save people. In the first reading, since people continuously sin against God, they need to offer the animals’ blood to compensate for their sins. In the second reading, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews compared the Passover and the Sinai Covenant which achieved through Moses with Jesus’ Passover and the New Covenant. Jesus is the Unleavened Bread and the Passover Lamb of the New Covenant who is ready to die in place of people so that they can eternally live. In the Gospel, Jesus sent some of His disciples to Jerusalem to prepare for them to celebrate the Passover. During the Passover meal, He instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist to sacrifice His Body and Blood for people in order that they can live this life and the next life. He also commanded His disciples to frequently celebrate this sacrament to remember Him.
1/ First Reading: The Sinai Covenant was certified by the animal’s blood.
1.1/ God established His covenant on Mt. Sinai with His people: Before proceeding to the promised land, God wants to establish with Israelites a covenant. Since the Israelites could not endure God’s presence, they asked God to communicate with them through a mediator, Moses. After received God’s ordinances, Moses came down from Sinai’s Mountain and report all what God said and His ordinances. All people responded: “All what God said we will do it.” The covenant is the official agreements of both sides to keep some things to protect each other. According to Sinai Covenant, God promised to protect the Israelites and they promised to do all His ordinances.
“4 And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord. And he rose early in the morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. 5 And he sent young men of the people of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the Lord. 6 And Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he threw against the altar. 7 Then he took the book of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.””
1.2/ The Covenant is signed by the blood of animal: “And Moses took the blood and threw it upon the people, and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”” The Israelites believe “blood is life.” When a covenant is signed with blood, they take life to swear with God that they shall obey His laws; but they violated this Covenant many times. In order to be forgiven, God commands them to kill animals and take their blood as an offering to atone for their sins, as the Book of Levi wrote: “11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it for you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement, by reason of the life. 12 Therefore I have said to the people of Israel, no person among you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger who sojourns among you eat blood.” (Lev 17:11-12).
2/ Second Reading: Christ came to the sanctuary not with the animal blood but His own blood.
2.1/ The blood of the Old and the New Covenant: The blood of the Old Covenant is only the symbol and must be fulfilled by the blood of the New Covenant. The author of the Letter of Hebrews compared in details between the two Covenants and suggested the following conclusion: The New Covenant is more perfect than the Old Covenant, “11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent, (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 he entered once for all into the Holy Place, taking not the blood of goats and calves but his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.” Christ is the High Priest who is higher than all other high priests due to the following reasons:
(1) He has no need to offer his sin-offering because He has no sin; while all other high priests must offer their sin-offerings before they can offer sin-offerings for others.
(2) He voluntarily sacrificed Himself as the sin-offering for people, and one time for all. From now on, people have no need to offer animal’s blood anymore when they sin.
(3) All other high priests can only enter the Most Holy of the Holies (where God presences) one time a year during the Day of Atonement, Christ entered a more perfect sanctuary in heaven, and He always sits at the right hand of God to intercede for people. When Christ exhaled His last breath, He tore down the curtain which separates between the Holy and the Most Holy in the Temple, so that from now on all people can directly come to God through Christ at any time.
(4) Christ’ blood can’t be compared with animals’ blood: The author of the Letter to the Hebrew writes: “13 For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” First, Christ’s blood is the voluntary blood – to do God’s will; it is not like the animal’s blood which are killed to atone for people’s sins. Secondly, Christ’s blood is the precious blood of God’s Only Son. Lastly, Christ’s blood not only has power to purify sins but also to sanctify and to give people the divine life.
2.2/ The effects of blood:
(1) To purify: The blood is constantly moving to cast out all dirty particles of other parts of the body. The blood of the Old Covenant is the animal’s blood which is poured out to atone people’s sins. The blood of the New Covenant purifies people’s sins, once for all. “15 Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred which redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant.”
(2) To nourish: Blood is the symbol of life since blood is moving to nourish all parts of the body. The animal’s blood is poured out to die in place of men; Christ’s blood is poured out to die for people and to recover the eternal life for them. Christ’s blood brings back to whom are called by God the right to receive the eternal inheritance which God promised.
(3) To unite: Blood unites all parts of body together: In the Yom Kippur Day of the Old Testament which is called “at-one-ment = become one,” to unite people with God and with one another. In the New Testament, Christ’s blood unites us, members of one body which is the Church with Christ, the Head.
3/ Gospel: “This is my blood, the blood of the New Covenant which is poured out for all people.”
3.1/ The Passover of Christ has the historical background from the Jewish Passover. In the Jewish Passover, God liberated the Israelites from slavery for the Egyptians and brought them to the Promise Land which is full of milk and honey. Jesus also compared His Passion as a Passover as reported by John: “Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father” (Jn 13:1a). In the Jewish Passover, the Unleavened Bread and the Passover Lamb are the two required things to celebrate the Passover Feast: the lamb’s blood are used to spread on the door so that when God’s angels who were commanded to kill all Egyptians’ firstborns on that night saw the blood, will pass over and not kill the firstborns of that house.
3.2/ Christ instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist: In the new Passover, the Unleavened Bread is His Body and the lamb’s blood is His blood as reported by Mark: “22 And as they were eating, he took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” 23 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. 24 And he said to them, “This is my blood of the[a] covenant, which is poured out for many. 25 Truly, I say to you, I shall not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.””
In the New Passover, Christ also liberates people from slavery for sins and death by His Body and Blood. After eating the Passover, the Israelites must begin their journey through the Red Sea; Jesus and His disciples also did the same. After establishing the sacrament of the Eucharist, Jesus and His disciples sang the hymn and went to Mount Olives to pray and to face trials.
Similarly in the life of every one of us, after received the Eucharist, we must also enter into life to face difficulties and trials of daily life such as: sickness, study and working, differences, misunderstanding, division and enmity… from our relationship with others, in addition of many anxieties for the future. It is due to the divine power from the sacrament of the Eucharist which helps us to have strength and grace to overcome all these difficulties. If we do not receive this divine food, how could we find strength to overcome all difficulties of our life?
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– The Eucharist is the sacrament of love. Because Christ so loves us, He establishes this sacrament to remain with us until the Last Day (Immanuel). We need to frequently receive this sacrament so that He can increase His love in us.
– The Eucharist is the sacrament of life. We not only live physically but also live spiritually. This sacrament provides spiritual strength so that we might have power to live joyfully and to overcome all difficulties daily.
– The Eucharist is the sacrament of unity. This sacrament unites people with God and with others. In order to live happily and in harmony, all people in the family and the community need to receive this sacrament as often as possible.