Sunday, June 07, 2015

Sunday word, 07Jun15

Our Participation
Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ (B) (07 Jun 2015)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Musical compositions can close with a few measures that echo melodies in the main body; the closing can be a separate section. A musical close of any length is called a coda. A coda makes musical remarks about an entire composition. The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ Jesus provides us with a liturgical coda before we resume the numbered Sundays of the Year. The solemnitys remark urges us to give ourselves to the One whose suffering, dying, rising and exaltation to share the very life of God we celebrated over three months. The bible names our giving covenant. Covenant was rooted in ancient Middle Eastern life.

Life in the ancient Middle East was dangerous. Clan leaders and kings held power. They offered protection and support in return for loyalty and service. The relationship was a covenant. To enter a covenant was a sacred event; symbols of life sealed it. The premier symbol of life in the ancient Middle East is not alien to us: blood sustains our lives, too.

God initiated the covenant with God’s people this way. God had liberated God’s people from Egypt before they knew God. They met God after God led them to freedom under Moses’ leadership. In the wilderness God spelled out to Moses God’s demands to be God’s people: all the words of the Lord. They expressed how to live as God’s people.

To seal the covenant Moses erected…an altar; it symbolized God. Moses splashed half the blood of sacrificial offerings on it: God sealed God’s side of the covenant. Moses read [the book of the covenant] aloud to the people, who answered, “All the Lord has said, we will heed and do.” Then he sprinkled [the blood] on the people. Their words alone did not seal their side of the covenant; the sprinkled blood did. Sharing God’s life and giving their lives to God—ritually expressed in blood—sealed their covenant; later worship began in this sacred event; so does our participation in the saving passion of our mediator Jesus and the new covenant in his blood.

The suffering, dying, rising and exaltation of Jesus focuses our annual Lent-Easter worship. The suffering, dying, rising and exaltation of Jesus is central to mature Christian faith. The new covenant in Jesus’ blood does what the first covenant could not: it cleanses our interior selves—our consciences. Our interior cleansing happens as we give ourselves to Jesus; as we join our lives to his.

Joining our lives to Jesus’ passion, dying and risen life is no slight thing. His disciples resisted hearing him say he would suffer and die.1 They seem to have resisted celebrating Passover with him: “Where do you want us to go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” Surely they did not expect Jesus to insert himself into its ritual; he did as he said over the cup, “This is my blood of the covenant.” Then they all drank its cup. Because blood symbolized life Jesus gave them his life. By drinking it they participated in his self-gift: and not only then; they would participate by future worship as well as how they lived—even how they died. So with us.

Our talk may distract us and keep us from maturing in Jesus. We say we receive communion, and we do. Communion is not only a gift received. By communion we give ourselves to Jesus and participate in him. His blood, his life, is his new covenant, new relationship with God. When we drink it we participate in it.2 Participation promises Jesus our loyalty and to donate our lives freely. The Solemnity of Jesus’ Body and Blood reminds that participating in his new covenant fashions us after his manner of life for the sake of our world. Participation in his body and blood forms us as his body in the world. To let Jesus shape us as his disciples-on-mission is the essence of Christian worship, service and evangelizing in his name.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Rest in our triune God.
  • Ask Moses, who sealed the first covenant, to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with him: praise him for dying and rising for you; tell Jesus what moves you when you share his body and blood; then pledge your desire to witness to his new covenant.
  • Ask for his grace to live your desire with courage.
  • Close saying slowly the prayer Jesus taught us. When we say it we do not only recall God’s love and Jesus’ counsel about praising and forgiving. Each time we pray it we refashion ourselves into Jesus’ presence where we live, work and play.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

  1. Mark 8.31; 9.31-32; 10.32-34.
  2. 1Corinthians 10.16, 18-21.


Wiki-images: Chalice window by GFreihalter CC BY-SA 3.0 Chalice sculpture, detail by Roger Wong CC BY-SA 2.0

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