Corpus Christi Sunday, June 6 at St. Francis Xavier Parish
This Sunday we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, also known to us under the Latin term Corpus Christi. As we find ourselves in a moment of history when most of us cannot receive the Blessed Sacrament because of the pandemic restrictions in place upon gatherings, we might see how much we miss receiving Christ, who comes to us in the form of bread and wine. I invite you to reflect on the readings for this Sunday.
“Sometimes we find ourselves in a lineup with a bunch of strangers, shuffling down the aisle in church, and we forget that we are standing with our family on the pathway to heaven about to partake of the Body and Blood of Christ offered once for all time for the salvation of the world.
The sacrificial nature of the Eucharist is clear from Jesus’s words and actions at the Last Supper, but hearing the words of institution over and over can become a part of a rote behavior that obscures their life-giving meaning. In the words of Mark’s gospel, “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.’”
The primary sacrificial context for the Last Supper comes from the Passover feast in which the meal is situated, but the offering of Jesus’s Body and Blood on behalf of “many” – that is, for all people – takes on and reinterprets much more of the sacrificial imagery of the Old Testament. The bread that he broke is a sign of his body, which he will offer in death, the true bread of the presence. The “blood of the covenant” shares in the imagery of the ceremony in Exodus in which Moses sprinkled blood on the people of Israel as a sign of their obedience to the covenant. The phrase “shed for many” draws us inexorably to the Suffering Servant of Isaiah, who pours himself out as an expiation for the sins of the people.
These sacrificial realities are not alien to the Last Supper. They are an inherent part of Jesus’s actions, which he interprets for his apostles prior to the crucifixion. But for these understandings to come to the fore, the first Christians had to meditate and reflect on what Jesus had done and what this meant for the continuing life of the church.
The author of the Letter to the Hebrews makes it his mission to explicate and explain what took place on Calvary in light of the Jewish sacrificial system. He explains that Jesus is not only the sacrifice for the sins of the world but also the perfect high priest and that through the offering of himself as the perfect sacrifice, Jesus “is mediator of a new covenant:… those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance.”
Jesus’s words over the bread and wine, then sharing it with his disciples, signifies his giving them a share in the atoning power of his death. And that atoning power has as its goal eternal life with Jesus. But it was not just those who sat at the table with Jesus who are able to share in the atoning power of Jesus’s sacrifice; Jesus opened the way for all to share in the eternal inheritance.
The Eucharist fulfills the sacrificial system and gives us the ability to share in the power of Christ’s atoning death here and now, but it also prepares us for our eternal inheritance. With the rest of God’s family, we will share in the messianic banquet. Jesus tells us “many will come from the east and the west, and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the banquet in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 8:11). Only the true bread of heaven, the perfect High Priest, could offer himself once for all and so pave the way for our entry into the temple made not with hands. So walk with joy toward the temple prepared for us for eternity, as you are about to share a foretaste of the unending banquet.” (Living Liturgy 2021)
In the light of the discovery of the unmarked graves of 215 children at the Kamloops Residential School, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops as well as the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate have released statements of heartfelt sadness, sincere regret and condolences. These statements will be published in our online parish bulletin tomorrow. We are all invited to pray for and remember the souls of those children who rest nameless in unmarked graves, that our loving God grant them eternal rest and give consolation to their grieving families. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
You are invited to join many Catholics across Canada, the USA, and other countries for a two-hour virtual Bible conference this weekend on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, also known as the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. The Holy Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life. But what does the Holy Bible have to say about it? Join in online Saturday, June 5, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. (EST). Register for free here! It is not too late to register tonight (Friday).You will need access to Zoom.
Last week I mentioned in my weekly email that with the stages of reopening which will begin to take place soon, we will have an opportunity to have an outdoor Sunday Mass on June 20 and 27 at least. Obviously, everything depends on if the weather cooperates with us on these days. So, bring your lawn chair, sunglasses and an umbrella in case of light rain and join us in the Marian Garden, behind the parish hall, for the first outdoor Sunday Mass at 10am on June 20.
Today, Friday, final touches were put on installing the HVAC units on the church roof that will provide a nice breeze in the church when the hot hot summer kicks in. We thank those involved in this project and pray that the units will serve our church for many years, hopefully at least 30 like the old ones. I am sure the bill for this project will arrive on my desk before I move to the new parish, and it is not a small one!
Our online gatherings over the next week are:
Monday, June 7 – Coffee with the Clergy hosted by Deacon Brian (7:00-8:00pm)
Wednesday, June 9 – Game Night hosted by Youth Ministry (7:00-8:00pm)
For the Zoom invites or more information about either of these events, please contact Wes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This summer we will be offering several online activities for students, including week-long half-day online camps for Grades 3-6 and an evening series for those in Grades 7 – 12. Please visit the online bulletin for more details. Registration will open this coming week!
This Sunday we will still be live-streaming our Sunday Mass at the regular time of 10:00am with the Rosary prayed at 9:30am as always. Come and pray with us virtually. This Sunday Deacon John Girolami is preaching. Hopefully it is a good one, otherwise …. 🙂 Just kidding!
God bless, everyone.