Corpus Christi

Sunday, June 6, 2021

First reading: Ex. 24:3-8

When Moses came to the people and related all the words and ordinances of the LORD, they all answered with one voice, “We will do everything that the LORD has told us.” Moses then wrote down all the words of the LORD and, rising early the next day, he erected at the foot of the mountain an altar and twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel. Then, having sent certain young men of the Israelites to offer holocausts and sacrifice young bulls as peace offerings to the LORD, Moses took half of the blood and put it in large bowls; the other half he splashed on the altar. Taking the book of the covenant, he read it aloud to the people, who answered, “All that the LORD has said, we will heed and do.” Then he took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words of his.”

Second reading: Hb. 9:11-15

Brothers and sisters: When Christ came as high priest of the good things that have come to be, passing through the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made by hands, that is, not belonging to this creation, he entered once for all into the sanctuary, not with the blood of goats and calves but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the sprinkling of a heifer’s ashes can sanctify those who are defiled so that their flesh is cleansed, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to worship the living God.

For this reason he is mediator of a new covenant: since a death has taken place for deliverance from transgressions under the first covenant, those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance.

Gospel: Mk. 14:12-16,22-26

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.

In other words Fr. Jose H. P. Mateo, SVD (Paraguay, South America)

Tantum ergo Sacramentum veneremur cernui!” Sing it! Solemnly, you can recite it. Softly, you can also hum it. Those are the first words of the hymn to the Blessed Sacrament called “Tantum Ergo.” Translated literally, the Latin hymn says, “Therefore so great a Sacrament, let us venerate with heads bowed.”

The hymn is usually sung during benediction when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed for adoration. We learned that hymn in the seminary. And we all fell involve with “Tantum Ergo.” I remember this Eucharistic Hymn because today we celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi. It is also called the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. What is the significance of the Feast of Corpus Christi?

First of all, the Feast of Corpus Christi calls us to proclaim our faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. We believe that Jesus is present in the Eucharist. In the gospel today, we recall the words of Jesus during the Last Supper. All four gospels report the words of Jesus at the Last Supper. So the Church teaches, “By the consecration the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ is brought about. Under the consecrated species of bread and wine, Christ himself, living and glorious, is present in a true, real, and substantial manner: his Body and his Blood, with his soul and his divinity” (ccc 1413). Sometimes, people find it difficult to accept this teaching. That is why, when reason is found wanting, faith must come in. “Praestet fides supplementum sensuum defectui.”

Secondly, the Feast of Corpus Christi summons us to renew our hope in the eternal. Jesus said, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever… he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life” (Jn. 6:51,54). Just before Holy Communion, the priest says quietly and prays for the people, “May the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ bring us to everlasting life.” That is our prayer. That is our hope.

And lastly, the Feast of Corpus Christi reminds us that the Eucharist strengthens our charity. Jesus instituted the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist because of His great love for us. We must reciprocate that love by our loving service to others. “As bodily nourishment restore lost strength, so the Eucharist strengthens our charity” (ccc 1394).

Just as we fell in love with “Tantum Ergo,” another hymn melted our hearts every Monday night devotion. If you know it, you may sing it! “O Salutaris Hostia!”

Tags: Bible reflection, Witness to the Word

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