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Contents: Volume 2 - The Body & Blood of Christ (A) - June 14, 2020


Body

   &

  Blood

   of Christ

 

1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

3. -- Brian Gleeson CP

4. -- Paul O'Reilly SJ

5. --(Your reflection can be here!)

 

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1.

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Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ 2020

It is beyond difficult for those of us in 2020 who are not able to receive the Body and Blood of Christ on this feast day due to the current pandemic restrictions. Those thoughts immediately turned to those in the world who are usually unable to receive this Sacrament due to other reasons as well. The question becomes how do we who hunger and thirst remain spiritually connected in such times, regardless of the cause?

Before addressing that, let us remember and not downplay the importance of receiving the Body and Blood of Christ! I recently saw a striking piece of stained glass artwork on Give Us This Day by Pater Karl Stadler OSB with the words "Novi et eterni testamenti". The Body and Blood of Christ is indeed an eternal testament to the unconditional love of God for us. Throughout history, this love has been shown to the people of God by God, over and over again, as partially described in the first reading from Deuteronomy. The second reading from 1 Corinthians reminds us that receiving the Body and Blood of Christ is the participation in the life of Christ and that we are one body. In the Gospel passage according to John, Jesus tells the Jewish crowds and us that he is the living bread, that the living Father sent him, and that we have life within us because of these things. We are spiritually alive and eternally connected.

This life within us does not end right after we finish receiving the Body and Blood of Christ. The reception (re)fills us, empowers us, and sustains us, but not just immediately and for the moment, but well into our lives and indeed eternal life. Many of us find ourselves currently between our last "usual" physical reception or that of long ago, and eternal life. Twelve weeks seems so very long to me!! I can only imagine the yearning of those whose "usual" reception of the Body and Blood of Christ is random at best. The uplifting truth is that we are still being filled, empowered, and sustained!

I think of this connection as living and flowing water, not what comes from a spigot that gets turned on and off. In praying the prayer of Spiritual Communion, I can renew my commitment to "go with the flow" of how God is working within me. There are times right now that I feel like I am about to fall off the raft bumping along on this flowing water and just disappear into oblivion. I know, however, if I fall, I will still be carried on, still nourished, still part of belonging to this wonderful God.

What can we do, then, in times such as we have, to remain connected and as focused as possible? The answer of course is to pray frequently. Read and talk with like-minded people. The ways may be new to reflect your circumstance, the times, and social distancing, but the need for community is a mainstay. Smile. Be in solidarity in whatever ways are possible with those who are in pain from the current pandemic or from the many acts of injustice that are being voiced in our cities throughout the world. Wherever we are, we can act in ways that will promote God's ways. The world is in desperate need of staying connected to our God in authentic ways. Each of us needs to know God's deep love personally and to share it. Where can you begin on this great feast of LOVE?

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one

 

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2.

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Corpus Christi June 14 2020

Deuteronomy 8:2-3 & 14-16; Responsorial Psalm 147; 1st Corinthians 10:16-17; Sequence Lauda Sion (printed below after Reflection); Gospel Acclamation John 6:51; John 6:51-58

This magnificent celebration of the sacrament of the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Jesus, The Christ, was established by Pope Urban IV in 1264. Thom Aquinas, the great theologian, petitioned Urban to establish this celebration. Until relatively recently, that feast day was celebrated on the Thursday following the celebration of the Most Holy Trinity. Thursday was chosen since it was on that first Holy Thursday that Jesus established the memorial of his passion and death and resurrection which is the summation of his ministry to the world. More recently, that celebration is moved to the Sunday following Trinity Sunday. The celebration was always marked by a procession of the faithful, that procession dominated by the monstrance containing a large host, carried by the priest. The process would be led by a processional cross accompanied by candles. There would be lots of incense and loud and sometimes ragged singing by the faithful. This procession, like all processions in our liturgies, were symbolic of our journeys through the days of our lives. The very young found the procession an occasion to cut up, even though watched over by frowning consecrated Sisters or parents. Young, vigorous adults strode confidently under the host. The old and not yet totally infirm would hobble along, experienced in the difficulties and joys of life. These processions also engage those who finished their journey, triumphant, fed in life with the Body and the Blood of the Lord. They are with us, unseen.

As is the case with all human understandings and rituals, from time to time we must examine them to rediscover the meaning and purpose for our living of what is celebrated. Failure to examine, failure to seek understanding, failure to discover the wisdom of God’s plan in these liturgies can and often does reduce rituals and liturgies into superstition and a pursuit of magic grace. The readings for this most wonderful of liturgies are a great place to begin.

In the reading from the book of Deuteronomy, Moses addresses the Hebrew tribes formed into the nation of Israel over forty years of wandering in the desert. His focus is not of deliverance from the fist of Pharaoh, but of the forty years journeying in the desert. To the casual observer, the desert period appears seems a mindless wandering. Moses says otherwise. That journeying was God’s way of testing this people. In the difficulties of this generation long journey, these once disorganized tribes were tested as to their commitment to the commandments. It was not for God’s knowledge that these peoples were tested. Through this time of testing, the people who came to realize whether or not they could and would follow the God’s commandments. In the harshness and sterility of the desert they experienced hunger and thirst. And that hunger, that thirst found satisfaction in the presence of God traveling with them.

Is not this lesson from Deuteronomy applicable to us as well? Are there not times beyond our time of innocence that we hunger and thirst for strength to endure the trials challenging us our way? Do the pleasures and achievements of our life’s work and relationships not fade and lose their power to encourage, to deny doubt, to move us forward to the next set of troubles and challenges? Where is the manna and water from the flinty rock to revive us, to help us move again along our journeys? Here, in our celebration this Sunday, is the answer. We discover, if we listen well, the food and drink that transform the joys, the trials, the challenges of day-to-day living, work, play, and relationships into what is needed to transform life’s experiences into essential growth of spirit.

The Responsorial Psalm is a shout of recognition for all that has been, is, and will be done on our behalf. "Praise the Lord, Jerusalem." We are citizens of the City – that City that is the dwelling place of the Lord and the City of Peace. I suspect most of us who know the history of that city will laugh when we hear that Jerusalem is the City of Peace. That certainly is not our experience. It is not the experience of any generation before us. Yet, its very name is an expression of Hope as we "pray for the Peace of Jerusalem." We must pray for peace or we will never experience it. Let us Praise the Lord as it is from the Lord that we will experience "shalom" which is the peace of the Kingdom of God.

Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians writes of the Eucharist. The blessing cup is one of the four cups of wine passed during the Seder Meal, that commemoration of Passover. It is the cup of Elijah, which was reserved for a longed return of Elijah. Elijah is the prophet expected to come at the start of the Messianic Kingdom, the Kingdom of God’s reign. Paul explains the power of the Eucharist. The Bread is one loaf, the Wine is one cup. Because it is one, each one who participates in that one loaf become one with the loaf. That loaf in the Eucharist is the Body of Jesus, The Christ. We have heard these words several times. Let us listen again, intently. "We, though many, are one body." He insists the bread we break is a participation in the Body of Christ. We should be aware of this: when we receive the Body of the Lord. We are brought into his Body. All who are brought into his Body become One. Makes us wonder, doesn’t it? Do we really want to be one with those others at Mass?

If we consider the entirety of the liturgy of Eucharist, the Body of the Lord we receive at the communion rite becomes more and more important. Perhaps it helps to understand the communion sacrifice in the Temple. But we should note that the communion sacrifice was an integral part of pagan religions as well. The understanding of communion sacrifice is a common understanding to all religions of mystery. Some living thing would be sacrificed, its blood spilt. The carcass would be divided – a portion for God, a portion for the priests, and a portion for the people. The portion for God would be consumed in fire. The blood spilt was life poured out. In sharing the same food as God, the people sharing in what gave vitality to God. When the people shared in that food they shared in God’s food and thus shared the same life as God shared. In this way the people shared in what God had shared.

In this context, the most difficult Letter to the Hebrews makes some sense. That letter tells us that Jesus went into the Holy of Holies, not with the blood of sacrificial animals, but with his own blood. Jesus is God and is Man and in sacrificing his life to God, he joins heaven and earth in this communion sacrifice.

When we approach the altar after we hear the mysteries proclaimed from Scripture and from the words of the homilist, we bring our gifts to the altar. Those gifts are our sacrifices – whether it be money, whether it be the pains in our hearts, or the joys of life, we offer these as sacrifice to God. The offertory procession is an important symbolic gesture that is often under-played. It is an essential part of our Eucharistic liturgy. These gifts are consecrated by the Holy Spirit, called upon by the presiding priest, into the Body and Blood of the Christ. Just as the Holy Spirit is said to have overshadowed Mary and conceived the child, so also that self-same Spirit overshadows what we offered, our work, our joys, our pain, the moments of our journeys. The Bread and Wine – symbols of what we offer -- are transformed into the Body and the Blood of the Lord to serve as necessary food for our journeys. Our procession through life is more than accumulations, achievement of power, or recognition of others. All such things lack permanence and fail to satisfy our quest. Growth in character, in our spirits, requires energy and inspiration necessary for completing our journey home to our Father.

Jesus is not telling us a story when he identifies himself as the Living Bread come down from heaven. He is not engaging in hyperbole when he says whoever eats this bread will live forever. He himself is the food necessary for eternal life. He is the link created by his sacrifice that brings us into the very life of God. The life of God is the only eternal life we know of. Jesus is food for us – in what he does, in what he is, and in his relationships with the Father, with creation, and with all humanity. When we bring our gifts to the altar they are received and through the Spirit of God, that Spirit which is the very person of unity of the Trinity. These simple gifts are transformed into the Body and the Blood of the Lord. That Body and that Blood was sacrificed on the altar of the cross. And the proof of that sacrifice’s acceptance was the Resurrection of Jesus on the third day. What we fear most is death. By entering into what has held us captive, Jesus transforms death and transforms it into the road that leads to Eternal Life.

This celebration of Corpus Christi is not about the reservation of the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle. This celebration is about Food and Drink that nourishes, that heals, that lifts our spirits. We are on a journey. Each of us is unique, each of us walks on separate journeys. We are literally on pilgrimage. The greatest mystery of the Eucharist is that it brings us together, making us all one with every other. Instead of many "me’s" we are formed into "we", one Body marching to our destiny. We march in procession to our goal, to our going home. The experiences of each life grow the Kingdom of God. The pains and the joys we experience are taken by the Lord to the Holy of Holies and returned to us as Food and Drink for our journey.

Let us not be strangers to the Table of the Lord. Let us know and understand that our eating and drinking unite us to one another in a bond that is like to the bond of the Trinity. It is only there that peace and justice are obtained. We can never allow ourselves to think of persons as "they!" We are one in the Lord!

Carol & Dennis Keller dkeller002@nc.rr.com

Lauda Sion (Sequence)

Laud, O Zion, your salvation,

Laud with hymns of exultation,

Christ, your king and shepherd true:

Bring him all the praise you know,

He is more than you bestow.

Never can you reach his due.

Special theme for glad thanksgiving

Is the quick’ning and the living

Bread today before you set:

From his hands of old partaken,

As we know, by faith unshaken,

Where the Twelve at supper met.

Full and clear ring out your chanting,

Joy nor sweetest grace be wanting,

From your heart let praises burst:

For today the feast is holden,

When the institution olden

Of that supper was rehearsed.

Here the new law’s new oblation,

By the new king’s revelation,

Ends the form of ancient rite:

Now the new the old effaces,

Truth away the shadow chases,

Light dispels the gloom of night.

What he did at supper seated,

Christ ordained to be repeated,

His memorial ne’er to cease:

And his rule for guidance taking,

Bread and wine we hallow, making

Thus our sacrifice of peace.

This the truth each Christian learns,

Bread into his flesh he turns,

To his precious blood the wine:

Sight has fail’d, nor thought conceives,

But a dauntless faith believes,

Resting on a pow’r divine.

Here beneath these signs are hidden

Priceless things to sense forbidden;

Signs, not things are all we see:

Blood is poured and flesh is broken,

Yet in either wondrous token

Christ entire we know to be.

Whoso of this food partakes,

Does not rend the Lord nor breaks;

Christ is whole to all that taste:

Thousands are, as one, receivers,

One, as thousands of believers,

Eats of him who cannot waste.

Bad and good the feast are sharing,

Of what divers dooms preparing,

Endless death, or endless life.

Life to these, to those damnation,

See how like participation

Is with unlike issues rife.

When the sacrament is broken,

Doubt not, but believe ‘tis spoken,

That each sever’d outward token

doth the very whole contain.

Nought the precious gift divides,

Breaking but the sign betides

Jesus still the same abides,

still unbroken does remain.

The shorter form of the sequence begins here.

Lo! the angel’s food is given

To the pilgrim who has striven;

see the children’s bread from heaven,

which on dogs may not be spent.

Truth the ancient types fulfilling,

Isaac bound, a victim willing,

Paschal lamb, its lifeblood spilling,

manna to the fathers sent.

Very bread, good shepherd, tend us,

Jesu, of your love befriend us,

You refresh us, you defend us,

Your eternal goodness send us

In the land of life to see.

You who all things can and know,

Who on earth such food bestow,

Grant us with your saints, though lowest,

Where the heav’nly feast you show,

Fellow heirs and guests to be. Amen. Alleluia.

Carol & Dennis Keller dkeller002@nc.rr.com

 

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BECOMING ANOTHER CHRIST IN HOLY COMMUNION

God is one, but also three, for this one God consists of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In other words, when we talk about God, we are talking about relationships. We are saying that God exists in relationships within Godself, and in relationship to us! So we speak of God the Father as our Creator, of God the Son as our Saviour, and of God the Holy Spirit as our Sanctifier. In short, God is not alone, but a community. Neither are we alone, but a community. First of all, we are a community of human beings, in which all lives matter – no exception! Many of us are also make up the community of the followers of Jesus (the Church), with responsibilities to one another. We share life together as a Holy Communion, both before and after we receive the sacrament of Holy Communion in the Body and Blood of Christ.

But because of the current corona virus pandemic, our togetherness as one has been much disrupted. For more than three months most of us have been deprived of the sacrament of Holy Communion. Only recently have no more than 20 persons been able to pray together at church, while practising social distancing, hand sanitising, and other hygiene precautions.

Over the weeks and months of quarantines and orders to stay at home, many Christians, at a physical distance from the action and separated from others, have watched services on a TV or computer screen, In doing so, they have been struggling with how to best live out their faith as a community, And yet, as St Paul of the Cross, Founder of the Passionists used to say, ‘the love of God is very ingenious’. It has shown itself again and again in the maintenance and promotion of loving relationships, expressed in such good deeds as round-the-clock dedication of exhausted nurses and doctors to the care of the sick and the dying, giving of masks and even cooked meals to complete strangers, making phone calls to the isolated and lonely, sending cards to friends, or just staying at home to protect the most vulnerable.

Speaking of the sacrament of Holy Communion, St Augustine in the 400s in North Africa, said many wise things about who we are as members, cells, limbs, of the body of Christ. Among other things he said: 'You are what you have received.' In fact, the first of the two signs in which we receive Christ is the sign of bread. In the course of digestion, bread and the person eating it become one. It is assimilated into the body of the one eating it. When we receive Christ as the Bread of Life for our journey of life, we become ever more one with him. But there is a difference. Christ is not changed into us, into our bodies. No, we are changed by being assimilated into Christ's body. This is to say that we are further incorporated into his church, that extension of himself which is the body of Christians in the world today.

At the Last Supper, in a stunning way, Jesus acted out his care and concern for, his union and bonding with, his followers. He got down on his knees like a slave, went round the group, and washed their feet, one by one. It's interesting that John, in his gospel of the Last Supper, does not mention the action of Jesus with the bread and wine. Instead he tells us of the action of Jesus with a basin of water and a towel. In this way John tells us the meaning of both actions of Jesus. It is all about belonging to one another in the same community of Christ, the community of faith, hope and love, the community which is the Church. It is all about bonding and union with one another. It is all about humbly serving one another. It is all about reaching out with warmth and care, with welcome and hospitality to our neighbour, the neighbour who could hardly be better described than 'the person who needs me now - right here, right now’. As Mother Teresa of Calcutta has said so eloquently:

I know you think you should make a trip to Calcutta, but I strongly advise you to save your airfare and spend it on the poor in your own country. It’s easy to love people far away. It’s not always easy to love those who live right next to us. There are thousands of people dying for a bit of bread, but there are thousands more dying for a bit of love or a bit of acknowledgement. The truth is that the worst disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis (I add Covid19), BG; it’s being unwanted, it’s being left out, it’s being forgotten.

Love and service, welcome and hospitality, kindness and compassion, self-forgetfulness and inclusive generosity, that’s what it means to follow Jesus. That’s what it means to live community. That’s what it means to live his Last Supper command: ‘Do this in remembrance of me’!

Brian Gleeson CP <bgleesoncp@gmail.com>

 

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Year A: Corpus Christi

"I am the living bread that has come down from heaven."

I think I know how John the Baptist must have felt when everywhere he went people kept asking him "Are you Elijah – come back from the dead?". When I was in South America, everywhere I went, people always used to ask me: "Are you related to Bryan O’Reilly?"

To which I had to respond: "only as brothers in the Lord". It seemed to disappoint them hugely. He was a legend in the Rupununi – a man who had inspired the admiration and love of an entire nation. One couple came to see me from three hundred miles away in Brazil because they had heard that Fr O’Reilly was back in the Amazon and were so disappointed that my first name was Paul, rather than Bryan that they could not even stay to tea.

Even so, it was a great joy to be able to report to Bryan the great love and affection that people in Guyana still felt for him after his many years of service to them as a Jesuit missionary priest. Fame may be a passing bubble, but love is not. After he retired from the Missions (at the age of 82) he went to work in our parish of "Corpus Christi", Bournemouth in England. For the patronal feast of his parish he wrote a short poem for his parish newsletter, expressing something of what it means to him to have served the Eucharist all his life. Believing it worthy of a wider audience, his superior sent it in to our Province Newsletter. And, believing it worthy of a still wider audience I am sharing it with you here.

{For the best effect, take it somewhere quiet on your own and say it slowly and aloud.}

Corpus Christi

All absolutely empty.

Feelings have gone.

I gaze upon the crucifix.

And strive to ponder on the Eucharist.

Thoughts move along to the view

From my window of the church of Corpus Christi.

The garden, the bushes and the trees

A strange vision will appear at times

As I hear the chimes, and these

Remind me of so many things.

Our Lady sings in the breeze

That blows across the garden and the trees

And I listen to a voice that speaks most clearly

"This is my Body – This is the cup of my Blood."

A flood of memories pour into my mind.

The very fabric of my being.

And now I am seeing bright clear

The vision that is mine here – at Corpus Christi.

No one will ever understand – why should they?

Contrition – Compassion – Wish-filled yearning – explains it all.

I hear the call

"Come Lord Jesus – come".

Let us stand and profess our Faith in the Eucharist – the Presence of God in the World.

Paul O’Reilly, SJ <fatbaldnproud@opalityone.net>

 

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Volume 2 is for you. Your thoughts, reflections, and insights on the next Sundays readings can influence the preaching you hear. Send them to preacherexchange@att.net.  Deadline is Wednesday Noon. Include your Name, and Email Address.

-- Fr. John


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