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The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, Year B – Homily

The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, Year B
Exodus 24:3-8
Hebrews 9:11-15
Mark 14:12-16, 22-26
June 7, 2015

Today we celebrate the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.  The name is important.  We do not call it the feast of bread and wine.

It still looks like bread and wine but it has changed.  By the power of the Spirit, it is transubstantiated into the Body and Blood of Jesus.  At times we still call it bread and wine but it has become so much more.

This feast and what it means for us is essential to understanding what it means to be Catholic, a belief in the real presence.  Some Christian denominations never offer communion while others do it some but when they do, it is just recalling what Jesus did 2,000 years like we can recall any historical event.

To understand what the Eucharist means for us, we need to understand the Real Presence and how the Eucharist we celebrate today is a sacrifice.

Real Presence – Where would we ever get the idea that the bread and wine become Jesus?  We don’t see a change but we believe it in because we have the words of Jesus in the scripture saying this is my body and this is my blood of the covenant.  Jesus is the Son of God and we profess in the Nicene Creed that Jesus is the one whom through all things were made.  Jesus says it is so and so it is.

Recognizing the bread and wine as the Body and Blood of Christ we know that we are strengthened by it.  We become what we eat.

Sacrifice – The Eucharist is also a sacrifice for us.  Our reading today from Hebrews reminds us of the sacrifices that we find in the Old Testament.  Animals were sacrificed for the forgiveness of sins and as an offering to God. Those animal sacrifices were earthly and thus imperfect.  The sacrifice came as the life of the animal was taken.

Jesus offers us a new sacrifice.  It is not an imperfect human sacrifice.  It is Jesus freely giving His life for us.  The blood of the animals signified the sacrifices of the Old Testament.  It is Jesus’ blood that is at the core of what we sacrifice today.

Jesus’ sacrifice is a one-time event.  It is the sacrifice made on the Cross.  As such, many denominations see it as an event that happened in the past and is done and over with.  They believe that no new sacrifice is needed.

As Catholics, we also believe that Jesus’ Crucifixion is the ultimate sacrifice so that no new sacrifice is needed.  I want to emphasize the word “new” here.  As we celebrate the Eucharist today, no new sacrifice is offered.  However, we do offer a sacrifice here today.  Remember God is beyond time.  God makes present for us today the sacrifice of the Cross.

Jesus united the Eucharist and the sacrifice of His Crucifixion as one when he says that His blood is shed for many.

Recognizing the importance of this sacrifice, we come today to offer our own lives as sacrifices to be united with Jesus.

In thinking about what celebrating the Eucharist means for us, we also need to be mindful of the words in our first reading.  Moses offers the first sacrifice of the Old Covenant that is sealed with the blood of animals.  As he does show he reminds the people of all the words and ordinances of the Lord.  In forming the covenant the people agree to do everything that the Lord has told us.

It is the same for us.  Jesus has inaugurated a new covenant through the sacrifice of the Cross.  In coming here today and receiving the Eucharist we pledge to live as Jesus has taught us.

Today we celebrate the Real Presence, Jesus’ sacrifice, and recommit ourselves to live as Jesus tells us.


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