Homily for the feast of Corpus Christi - Year B - Mk. 14:12-16, 22-26


by

Father Daniel Meynen
 
 

"On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the passover lamb, the disciples of Jesus said to him, "Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the passover?" 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, 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?' And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us." And the disciples set out and went to the city, and found it as he had told them; and they prepared the passover.


"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." And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. 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." And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives."





Homily:


"On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the passover lamb, the disciples of Jesus said to him, "Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the passover?" 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, 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?' And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us." And the disciples set out and went to the city, and found it as he had told them; and they prepared the passover."


Each year, for several centuries now, the Church has devoted one special day to commemorate the Sacrament par excellence: the Eucharist, which is called the "Holy" Sacrament, not because the other sacraments are not "holy", far from it, but because the Eucharist is "the" Sacrament par excellence, which signifies that, truly, under the signs of the bread and the wine, the Lord Jesus, the only "Holy" one, is present in his Church and the world. Of course, each year, during Holy Week, we already commemorate the Last Supper, but, at the time, the stress is laid on the passion and death of the Lord, while today, without at all denying the close link between the Eucharist and the Passion of Jesus, the Church wants to highlight in particular the living character of the Eucharist, that character which is proper to the "Bread of Life".


Each Sunday, and even each day of the week, the Church invites the faithful to gather in the Temple of God in order to give thanks to the Lord through the celebration of the Eucharist. Just as Christ, almost two thousand years ago, celebrated the Passover Meal with his disciples, the priest, delegated by his bishop, celebrates the Eucharist with Christ's faithful on the day which commemorates the Resurrection of the Lord, the glorious and definitive Passover of the Son of God. From the Last Supper of the Lord to today's Eucharist, the Church gives thanks to God for the Gift of the first Creation and of the New creation in the dead and risen Christ. From Eucharist to Eucharist, the grace of God poured forth upon men returns to its Creator, taking with it, through its omnipotence, the free will of the man or woman who, in redeeming faith, relies totally on God, the glory and salvation of every creature.


"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." And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. 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." And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives."


The Last Supper, which Christ celebrated, is composed of words and gestures. Today, at the heart of the Eucharistic celebration, the Church repeats the same words and the same gestures. In addition to the words which we know to be essential to the Sacrament of the Eucharist, namely: "This is my Body" and "This is my Blood" (or "This is the Cup of my Blood"), there are other words of the Lord which are found in all the synoptic Gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke, and which are important in helping us to understand the Eucharist: "Take and eat...", "Take and drink..." (see especially: Mt. 26:26-27). The Eucharist is a sacrament which we are invited to eat and drink. The Lord said so, and he ordered us to do so: we must place our hands upon his Body and upon the Cup of his Blood in order to eat and drink this food and this spiritual drink.


In the celebration of the Eucharist, only the priest, in the communion with his bishop, places his hands upon the Sacrament of the Body and the Blood of Christ. Then, after having communicated, the priest gives the Eucharist to the faithful, under both species or under the species of the bread only. So apparently the faithful do not place their hands upon the sacrament of the Eucharist, because this action is reserved to priests. Nevertheless, there remains to the faithful one action which is their own: that of approaching the altar, going towards the Lord present in the Eucharist, and thus testifying to their obedience to the command of Christ. Truly, this approach expresses the will of the faithful who want to eat the Body of Christ and drink his Blood.


As they approach the priest and the altar, the faithful go to the Lord to give him thanks and to offer him all of their will as a sacrifice which has been made acceptable to God through the Virtue of Christ himself. It is then that the following words of the Holy Apostle Peter, which he wrote in his first epistle, take on their full meaning: "Come to him, to that living stone, rejected by men but in God's sight chosen and precious; and like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 2:4-5)


If there is one person who, more than any creature in the world, wishes to give Jesus to those who love him, it is Mary, the Mother of Christ, the Mother of the Church! So, when we see the priest giving the Eucharist to the faithful, let us remember: Mary is not far...