On the Gospel of Mark 14:12-16
Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi)
This Sunday is the feast of Corpus Christi, the day in the Church’s liturgical year devoted to the Blessed Sacrament. In Ireland we are blessed to host the week long International Eucharistic Congress, which opens this Sunday. May Ireland be blessed by this week of prayer and devotion to the Blessed Sacrament! The feast of Corpus Christi was originally instituted in the thirteenth century after a Eucharistic miracle in Bolsena in northern Italy. Our very own St Thomas Aquinas composed the prayers for the feast.
This Sunday’s Gospel relates the institution of the Holy Eucharist by Our Lord at the Last Supper. The Apostles were not aware of what was to happen the next day on Good Friday. They did not as yet understand that the Holy Eucharist was to make present the Paschal Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, every time Mass is offered on the altars of our churches and mass rocks. In the first part of this Sunday’s Gospel, we are reminded of the Passover Lamb. Jesus asks his disciples to prepare the place where the Passover will be eaten. What the apostles were to see the next day was the reality; that Jesus is the true sacrificial lamb.
If we simply believed that the only thing we could say about God and man, was that God created man, there would be nothing unreasonable about this belief. It is entirely reasonable to believe that God’s love for us is expressed in creating us. Indeed, it is something that we must remember as Catholics, for is it not good and wonderful that we exist?
However, all Christians believe that God’s love for us does not stop there. God became man! Jesus came and walked among us. He came healing and teaching and He called everyone to come to Him. Not content with showing His love for us by healing our illnesses and teaching us how to get to heaven, Jesus took it upon Himself to die on the cross for our sins. We could not save ourselves, and so Jesus bore our sins and carried his cross to Calvary, all for love of us. This is hard enough for us to believe, as St Paul says to the Corinthians “we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles ” (1 Cor 1:23). In a certain sense, those who cannot believe more can be understood, for surely Jesus’ love for us is shown in his incarnation and passion.
Catholics believe that Jesus has not left us at the Ascension, but that He remains with us continually in the Blessed Sacrament. What greater testament of Jesus’ love do we have with us today? We can be reminded of Incarnation, Passion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, but sometimes we tend to see them as events in the past. However, Jesus is with us NOW in the Holy Eucharist. This coming week is a great opportunity to rediscover Jesus’ desire to come and live in us when we receive the Blessed Sacrament at Mass and to contemplate and adore the Lord.
On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?” So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.” The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.
– Mark 14:12-16