“THIS IS MY BLOOD OF THE [NEW AND ETERNAL] COVENANT, WHICH IS POURED OUT FOR MANY” (Mark 14:24)
Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Year B)
Exod 24:3-8; Psalm 116:12-13, 15 and 16bc, 17-18 (R.v.13); Heb 9:11-15; Mark 14:12-16, 22-26
The celebration of the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, in a very special way, invites us to reflect on the rich deposit of our faith which informs our celebration of the Holy Eucharist. Beyond that however, it affords us of the opportunity to reflect well on what we believe in so as to ensure that we are not dancing outside the beat.
At this celebration last year, we were invited to reflect on the nourishing nature of the Bread that Jesus gives to our soul. While the nourishing effect is not forgotten in this years celebration, the covenantal nature of the sacrifice of Jesus is more emphasized for our reflection.
In the Old Testament, God made a covenant with the people of Israel after liberating them from slavery. That became a sign of their relationship with God. The First Reading gives us an account of that covenant and how it was sealed with the blood of an animal. The side of the people to the covenant would be to do all that the Lord has spoken (Exod 24:7). Unfortunately, they were not even faithful to that. Hence, they kept using the blood of animals to purify the covenantal pact.
However, even the blood of an animal was not able to completely renew the covenant. And it was going so bad that the prophet Jeremiah prophesied of an entirely new covenant that can never be soiled nor destroyed and so need renewal by the blood of animals (cf. Jer 31:31-34).
Through the Gospel, Jesus informs us that his blood is that which is required for that new covenant (cf. Mark 14:24). The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews tells us in the Second Reading makes that same but added a new understanding to it. This covenant, that Jesus now makes with his blood, is not just new but also everlasting. In the previous times, the covenant was being serviced by the blood of goats and calves repeatedly. But with the blood of Jesus, the covenant becomes eternal for eternal redemption (cf. Heb 9:12-15).
Notice that that event of the Last Supper in which Jesus made the declarations took place during the Feast of the Passover. At this Feast, the Jews recall how God saved them from the angel of death through the blood of the lamb that was smeared on their doorposts (cf. Exod 12:7, 13). So, in a way too, Jesus replaces the lamb of the Passover. And just as the blood of the lamb was marked on the doors of the Israelites, his blood is marked on our foreheads as marks of ownership. With that mark on our foreheads, no power of the evil one shall ever triumph over us.
No one is excluded from this covenant. That is why the Gospel reports that it is poured out for many (Mark 14:24). Yet, no one who is unworthy can partake of it safely (cf. 1 Cor 11:27-32).
May God give us the grace to always keep ourselves worthy for the reception of this great Sacrament of the Body and Blood and so be entrenched into the new covenant. May he also grant the Holy Spirit to those who are yet to understand their need of this sacrament so as to come and be united with Jesus, their Lord and saviour (see John 6:55). Amen
Have a blessed Sunday. Peace be with you.