Mark 14:12-16, 22–26
On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb was sacrificed, his disciples said to him, “Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?” So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go into the city and you will meet a man carrying a pitcher of water. Follow him, and say to the owner of the house which he enters, ‘The Master says: Where is my dining room in which I can eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large upper room furnished with couches, all prepared. Make the preparations for us there.” The disciples set out and went to the city and found everything as he had told them, and prepared the Passover. While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly I tell you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
Last Sunday we celebrated the Most Holy Trinity to praise God for his wisdom, power and love which is manifested in creation. In the loving work of the three Divine Persons to save humankind through a number of saving deeds to lead us to salvation. And among these loving deeds, one can be seen as the showpiece of God’s wisdom, power and love. It is the Eucharist. It was also this unique display of God’s love that moved the Church to establish the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, or Corpus Christi, to praise Christ for his boundless generosity and to help Christians to realize how decisive is the role the Holy Eucharist should play in our Christian life both as individuals and as a community.
Today’s gospel according to St. Mark begins with the Passover meal. He was not interested in the meal and merely mentioned that they were eating in the beginning of the passage. St. Mark was more interested in how Jesus foretold the betrayal. So the focus of this passage was on how Jesus was about to celebrate his own Passover, his own sacrifice of self to set all men and women free from the slavery of sin, on the Passover night.
At the meal, Jesus as the head of the group took a loaf of unleavened bread and pronounced a blessing on it, which was a thanksgiving to God. He then broke it into little pieces and gave a piece to each of the disciples. In the Jewish tradition, in the Passover meal, the father of the family had to explain the meaning of the unleavened bread, which “was the bread of emergency for it was in great haste that that you came out of the land of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 16:3). Here, Jesus as the head of the household tells his disciples the meaning of the bread that he is giving them: “This is my body.” By his divine power Jesus has made himself present in what looks like a morsel of bread.
At the same meal, Jesus gave each of the disciple the cup to drink and declares it to be his blood. With this blood, he ratifies the new Covenant. So now th blood of Christ is being shed in sacrifice for all men and women and it ratifies and seals the covenant between God and his new chosen people; while the old covenant on Mount Sinai made the Israelites God’s own people.
The earliest tradition of the Church took bread and wine as the reality of Christ’s body and blood. Note what St. Paul said in his First Letter to the Corinthians that “… when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Corinthians 11:24-27). Thus the bread and wine we receive at Mass are the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Finally before leaving the dining room, Jesus told the disciples that the food and drink his own body and blood, which Jesus was leaving them would sustain them spiritually until they came to the messianic banquet in heaven.
“Thou hast said it, O Lord, and thy word is true” (2 Samuel 7:28), is the solid basis of our belief in the Blessed Eucharist as a sacrifice and as a sacrament. I attend the sacrifice of the Mass devoutly as often as I possible can, and I can should receive my Saviour into my heart every time I participate in the Mass. I know that I am not worthy and never will be worthy to receive him under my roof. I am more unworthy than the Roman centurion who first said this to Christ, but it is not the healthy who have the need of the physician but the sick. I need all the spiritual help I can get in this life. What greater source of help and strength could I get than Christ himself, the very author of my salvation? Amen.