18Jun 18 June, 2017. The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Presider’s Page has Opening Prayer, Prayers of the Faithful, etc.

1st Reading: Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14-16

Moses notes how God fed his people in the desert with the gift of manna

Remember the long way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, in order to humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commandments. He humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna, with which neither you nor your ancestors were acquainted, in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

Then do not exalt yourself, forgetting the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, who led you through the great and terrible wilderness, an arid wasteland with poisonous snakes and scorpions. He made water flow for you from flint rock, and fed you in the wilderness with manna that your ancestors did not know, to humble you and to test you, and in the end to do you good.

2nd Reading: 1 Corinthians 10:16-17

In sharing the bread of life at Mass, we become one body

The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.

Gospel: John 6:51-58

Jesus says he himself is the living bread for believers

Jesus said to them, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.”


Ideas on this Feast

(Kieran O’Mahony)
St Paul’s teaching on the Lord’s Supper and the (social) Body of Christ has tremendous potential for today and it might be good to spend time on the second reading for a change. The roots, as always, lie in Jesus’ own practice of table fellowship, both radical and scandalous. If we truly experienced ourselves as one bread, one body, perhaps our living of the Gospel might no longer be superficial and conventional but also radical and scandalous.

Early description of the Eucharist

(From the Didaché “Teaching of the Twelve Apostles”):

“Concerning the Eucharist, give thanks as follows. First, concerning the cup: We give you thanks, our Father, for the holy vine of David your servant, which you have made known to us through Jesus, your servant; to you be the glory forever. And concerning the broken bread: We give you thanks, our Father, for the life and knowledge that you have made known to us through Jesus, your servant; to you be the glory forever. Just as this broken bread was scattered upon the mountains and then was gathered together and became one, so may your church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into your kingdom; for yours is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ forever.”  (Didaché 9:1–4)

His Presence Among Us

Jesus is living food for us, sent from the Father in heaven. Unlike ordinary food, which just sustains life, this food gives a life that is eternal.From the burning bush to the gentle breeze, God has made his presence known among us since the beginning of time. Being among us as food for body and spirit is a significant way of being present. Christ’s eucharistic presence is in bread and wine, among the commonest elements of food and drink in his day. The Lord is present among us through everyday things.

Bread comes from a process that begins with seeds of wheat mixed with water. These are brought together as dough and, after several stages of development, they end up as a unity which we call bread. Wine begins as a cluster of grapes which, when they are processed, they end up as what we call wine. A group of people gather together for prayer, each of them unique. After a process which is the work of God’s Spirit, they become a unity, which we call church, or the Body of Christ. In communion, the (community) Body of Christ is being nourished by the (sacramental) Body of Christ.

If someone invited you all to gather around me, as close as you can, because he was going to whisper to you, something else would take place that might surprise you. You’d notice that the closer you come to me the closer you’d be to each other. If you gathered closely around one person, you would be touching shoulders with each other. That is how community or the Body of Christ is formed. It is a question of bringing people closer to the Lord and, as a direct result of that, they end up being closer to each other.

Throughout history, God has spoken to his people in surprising ways. He spoke to Elijah through the gentle breeze, and he spoke to Moses in the burning bush. The natives of Bethlehem weren’t too excited that a new baby had been born and, later on, Herod would mock Jesus as a fool, and the soldiers would jeer him as a king. After the resurrection, Mary Magdalene thought he was a gardener, Peter thought he was a ghost, and the disciples on the road to Emmaus thought he was a stranger passing through. That he should present himself in so simple a form as food and drink is just what we might expect from “The God of Surprises.”

Eucharistic Stagnation?

(José Antonio Pagola)

Pope Francis keeps repeating that fears, doubts, lack of boldness… all can radically keep us from pushing the renewal our Church needs today. In The Joy of the Gospel he even says that if we stay paralyzed by fear, we can once more end up simply being «spectators of a sterile stagnancy in our Church». His words are worth thinking about. What do we see happening among us? Are we being mobilized to revive the faith of our Christian communities, or do we keep marking time within that “sterile stagnancy” that Francis talks about? Where can we find energy to act?

One of Vatican II’s great achievements was to push us forward in regards to the Mass: till then understood as an individual obligation to fulfill a sacred law, towards the Eucharist lived out as a joyful celebration of the whole community that nourishes our faith, helps us grow in solidarity, and awakens our hope in the Risen Jesus Christ. Throughout these years, we have indeed moved forward in important ways. We are far from those frequently muttered Masses celebrated in Latin, in which the priests “read” the Mass and the Christian people came just to «hear» Mass or «assist» at the celebrations. But aren’t we still celebrating the Eucharist in a routine and boring manner?

It’s undeniable that people are abandoning the Sunday practice at an alarming rate, in part because they don’t find in our celebrations the atmosphere, the clear word, the expressive ritual, the stimulating welcome that they need to nourish their weak and failing faith. All of us, pastors and laity alike, need to ask ourselves what are we doing so that the Eucharist would be «the center and the culmination of the Christian community’s whole life»? How can our bishops stay so silent and unmoved? Why don’t we believers more forcefully show our concern and our sadness?

The problem is serious but may be soluble. Do we have to stay «stagnant» in our way of celebrating the Eucharist, so unattractive to men and women today? Is this centuries-old liturgy the best one that can help us to bring to reality that memorable supper of Jesus where we so admirably concentrate the nucleus of our faith?

The table of fellowship

Sitting down together to a meal can generate a special feeling of togetherness. Each of us will have our own memories of table companionship or fellowship. Many of these will be happy experiences of celebration and laughter, of love received and shared. Some memories of table fellowship may be sad, times when we were more aware of one who was absent than of those who were present. Jesus shared table many times with his disciples. It is likely that, when sharing food with his disciples, he also shared with them his vision of God’s kingdom . At table, the disciples imbibed something of Jesus’ mind and heart and spirit. Of all the meals he shared with them, the meal that stayed in their memory more than any other was their last meal together, what came to be known as the last supper. Today’s gospel gives us Mark’s account, his word-picture, of that last supper.

This last meal Jesus shared with his disciples stood out in their memory, capturing the imagination of generations of disciples right up to ourselves. He did more than share his vision with the disciples; he gave them himself in a way he had never done before, and in a way that anticipated the death he would die for them and for all, on the following day. In giving himself in the form of the bread and wine of the meal, he was declaring himself to be their food and drink. In calling on them to take and eat, to take and drink, he was asking them to take their stand with him, to give themselves to him as he was giving himself to them.

It was because of that supper and of what went on there that we are here in this church today. Jesus intended his last supper to be a beginning rather than an end. It was the first Eucharist. Ever since that meal, the church has gathered regularly in his name, to do and say what he did and said at that last supper–taking bread and wine, blessing both, breaking the bread and giving both for disciples to eat and drink.

Jesus continues to give himself as food and drink to his followers. He also continues to put it up to his followers to take their stand with him, to take in all he stands for, living by his values, walking in his way, even if that means the cross. Whenever we come to Mass and receive the Eucharist, we are making a number of important statements. We are acknowledging Jesus as our bread of life, as the one who alone can satisfy our deepest hungers. We are also declaring that we will throw in our lot with him, as it were, that we will follow in his way and be faithful to him all our lives, in response to his faithfulness to us. In that sense, celebrating the Eucharist is not something we do lightly. Our familiarity with the Mass and the frequency with which we celebrate it can dull our senses to the full significance of what we are doing. Every time we gather for the Eucharist, we find ourselves once more in that upper room with the first disciples, and the last supper with all it signified is present again to us.

Remembering … Corpus Christi

Remembering and forgetting are very much part of our lives. We remember some people with a building… or a park…or a statue in their honour. Long ago the Egyptian Pharaohs built huge, stone pyramids to be remembered. Can you name two people that we remember with a statue on O’Connell Street, Dublin?
(By the way, this lighted candle in our church is to remember all young people sitting exams.)

Along with remembering we also forget.It is ok to forget some things and sometimes! But if you forget someones birthday or wedding anniversary. Does it matter? Or I forget to pray for someone’s mam or dad at Mass. Does it matter?

Jesus also asked to be remembered. He asks us to remember his words

• He wants us to remember his examples and sayings about mercy.

• He wants us to remember his welcome and open-table meals.

• He wants us to remember his words and his actions about the Kingdom of God

• He wants us to remember his future Kingdom of heaven

• He wants us to remember his command to love one another.

• He wants us to remember Gods faithfulness to us in his death and resurrection .

Jesus gave specific instructions how we were to remember him. Before leaving this world He gathered his friends around a table, took the everyday food of those days – Bread and Wine – then said a blessing prayer and broke the bread.

He told his friends to share this food and drink. In this way they would remember Jesus – and make present God’s faithfulness to us through his life- giving death and resurrection. He told them that they should do this regularly. Then early Christian communities met in homes to eat the bread and drink the wine.

Today we gather in buildings constructed specially for gathering and worship. We remember God’s faithfulness to us in Jesus’ death and resurrection .. It still works. Jesus asked to be remembered – and He is.. This very day here among us.

6 Responses

  1. Kevin Walters

    “He also continues to put it up to his followers to take their stand with him, to take in all he stands for, living by his values, walking in his way, even if that means the cross”.

    The above statement resonates with me as I see the (Sacrament) Eucharistic sacrifice as drawing us in to participate with Him in the self-giving sacrifice (Serving of the Truth) of the cross, by attempting to emulate Him in obedience to our Fathers divine Will. In doing so we confront in humility the reality of own lives, as it is in the serving of the Truth, that flies and weeds are scattered from amongst us, in that the Eucharistic sacrifice when willingly embraced gives us the grace to do this.

    We all carry our own experiences with us and our views are influenced by them. There is a culture within the church that is is difficult to explain if you are an outsider as I am. I have observed for over thirty five difficult years that there is a war going on within the church, I have referred it, in been similar to a Chess Board next to every black one stands a white one and that the church is losing, this can be seen in declining congregations, rather than describe this as “It’s undeniable that people are abandoning the Sunday practice at an alarming rate” I would say Siphoned off into another culture that is one of relativism”. The only way to combat this is in the serving the Truth.

    At present there is a lot of talk on “table of fellowship”

    From the link below
    “Church Structural Change through Small Christian Communities”


    I believe that “celebrating the Eucharist is not something we do lightly”

    kevin your brother
    In Christ

  2. Joe O'Leary

    ‘At present there is a lot of talk on “table of fellowship.”’

    That is perhaps the central plank of the liturgical renewal of the Council. Jesus taught in a fleshly way by celebrated meals with those he wished to reach and enacting the graciousness of God in this way. The Last Supper was his supreme creation as a meal-event that would endure until the end of the age. The visible image of the invisible God became invisible again in the Ascension, though continuing to dwell invisibly in our hearts through the Holy Spirit. But today’s feast adds a complement: a new visible and fleshly presence of Christ in the signs of bread and wine and in the gathered community. The church itself is essentially a table fellowship, the eucharist in all its dimensions being its central activity.

    The celebration of a meal of friendship should not be so terribly difficult, should not be stilted or become a dreary routine. When it’s done in the right spirit, it shows what a wholesome change of church life was brought about by the liturgical renewal.

  3. Sean O'Conaill

    ‘Table fellowship’ was surely in the beginning a matter of the sharing of food by those who had it to spare, with those who lacked. It therefore also involved ‘sacrifice’ – understood as generous self-giving on the model of Jesus himself.

    Now this is never unpacked, in my experience, and the meaning of Christian sacrifice is never explored either – e.g. in the context of want or homelessness. Typically there is a collection for the support of clergy and church infrastructure – and this is ported to the altar at the Offertory. That’s what happens with us anyway – while the regular collection for ‘St Vincent dePaul’ happens after mass and never goes near the altar. How does this help us to understand the offertory and its organic relation to sacrifice? And what of the many likely other ‘sacrifices’ of members of the congregation? How simple it would be for the celebrant to include those in the Offertory prayer – but that never happens either.

    This routinisation of never-considered practices reinforces the sense that younger generations have of the irrelevance of the typical Irish Eucharist -its total loss of meaning as a contrast to the world outside.

    Unless we are consciously contrasting our ‘community celebration’ (and the ethic of sacrifice understood as generosity) with the ‘individualism’ that is destroying community simultaneously in that world, we are in a doomed trance. The absence of younger generations should be forcing us into wakefulness, but who will sound the wake-up bell?

    Meanwhile quarterly meetings of bishops occur at Maynooth (there was one last week). A reading of the press release for that proves that once again none of the elephants in the living-room suffered a moment’s inconvenience.


    Elephant avoidance – and especially the ignoring of the deep crisis of continuity now just round the corner – has become the summit skill of the ICBC as we await a papal visit.

  4. Lloyd Allan MacPherson

    Perhaps that table environment was the only way to empower the community to live non-violently – in small groups where insight and direction could flourish. That might not be a popular opinion but today, coming together with people around a table only for us all to leave and become, once again, a cog in our current culture that encourages violence whether economic, militaristic, or environmental is a little hypocritical, is it not? We can’t have 2 or more kings – it doesn’t work that way, unless those kings are committed to servitude.

    It’s not only about being a good person at this stage. The best of us are still a spectator in this play. Bring people together to act like Jesus, not only to pray, and the kids will begin to show up and take part. They would love to be inspired to end the cycle of violence in the world but this inspiration involves acts of kindness, not words. Pope Francis sounded the wake-up bell and it rings every hour on the hour.

  5. Kevin Walters

    Joe, Sean & Lloyd

    “The church itself is essentially a table fellowship, the eucharist in all its dimensions being its central activity”.

    “It therefore also involved ‘sacrifice’ – understood as generous self-giving on the model of Jesus himself”. Now this is never unpacked, in my experience, and the meaning of Christian sacrifice is never explored either

    “Bring people together to act like Jesus”

    All acts of kindness are to be highly commended as is Pope Francis emphasis on a Church for the poor, as they mirror the actions/teachings of Jesus and in them we see love in action. But it is fair to say many none Christian groups/Cultures in this regard mirror His teachings also.

    Jesus says
    “For this I was born and for this I have come into the world: to testify of the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.”

    In testifying to the Truth
    We see His actions (self-giving) in the serving of the truth, in the Cleansing of the Temple, demonstrating to mankind its liberation effect from the abuse of power, it is this testimony coupled with His homing in on the hypocrisy of the Pharisees that ultimately leads to His death.
    Christian action(Worship)has to be underpinned by the Serving of the Truth as truth is the essence of love.
    Our leaders need the courage to teach by EXAMPLE, in been prepared to suffer for the Truth by embracing the wounds (Sufferings) of Christ and in so doing ask all of us to do the same, be an EXAMPLE serve and be prepared to suffer for the Truth in humility, by acknowledging their own human frailty (Cover up/blasphemy in God’s house) and in so doing courageously, expose the evil that enslaves mankind, our sinfulness.

    “Francis said Milani taught the importance of giving the poor the capacity to speak up for themselves, “because without the word (~Truth~), there’s no dignity and therefore no justice or freedom.” ~ My insertion~

    kevin your brother
    In Christ

  6. Lloyd Allan MacPherson

    “All acts of kindness are to be highly commended as is Pope Francis emphasis on a Church for the poor, as they mirror the actions/teachings of Jesus and in them we see love in action. But it is fair to say many none Christian groups/Cultures in this regard mirror His teachings also.”

    Kevin – these kinds acts are great but Jesus can’t materialise in this culture so our affinity towards those life lessons that he provided at one time, might leave humanity falling short right now. He can continue to give us advice in his teachings but sadly, he offered no support on how to reset this current mimetic. It is much too interconnected now. I believe that everything he did up until his death/resurrection was to prevent what essentially took hold and brought us to this destination so we don’t necessarily find the answer for today’s problems. His way was to prevent this current status quo. Had Jesus triumphed, we as a people would not have progressed society in a way that causes so much disparity for others – that would be at the forefront of thought.

    If there had been a reason for a disobedient group to flourish in 1st century, it was decrying the mental hijacking of societies by an elite. It was common knowledge that during the time of Jesus, the elite were so bent on controlling thoughts and minds that they started wars of destabilisation which allowed them to advance causes necessary for the state to flourish, much like we see today. Dick Cheney, some might say the mastermind of the Iraq war, is in southern Syria drilling for oil with other billionaires. At what point do they head to Africa to address concerns that affect humanity? They don’t.

    You, Sean, Joe and I are now intricate cogs in a doomsday scenario time clock – our small actions are counter-acted million-fold by the political/economic system that we support which feeds the violence and disparity that is perpetuated in the world. You could be the best person in the world, with the greatest compassion and do so much good in your community and help any fellow human as much as you can but each morning you wake up and walk out of your house to do your daily grind, you’ve contributed to this disparity in some way. Such is life in the Western world. There is no ‘how to’ guide to lead us out of this. That is the truth. This normal daily life is not evil – it is the status quo that we continue to protect by acting in unison on a subconscious level.

    We need to create a new mimetic and take every opportunity to do so. This pyramid is only going to be inverted for so long. That clock is still ticking. Destroy the desire for the ‘alpha-commodity’ on the planet and replace it with something that can be harvested by one and all.

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