23Jun 23 June 2019.

The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

1st Reading: Genesis 14:18-20

Melchizedek brought bread and wine and pronounced a blessing

Melchizedek king of Salem brought bread and wine; he was a priest of God Most High. He pronounced this blessing:
‘Blessed be Abraham by God Most High,
creator of heaven and earth,
and blessed be God Most High
for handing over your enemies to you.’
And Abraham gave him a tithe of everything.

Responsorial: Psalm 109:1-4

Response: You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek

The Lord’s revelation to my Master:
‘Sit on my right:
I will put your foes beneath your feet.’ (R./)

The Lord will send from Zion
your sceptre of power:
rule in the midst of all your foes. (R./)

A prince from the day of your birth
on the holy mountains.
From the womb before the daybreak
I begot you. (R./)

The Lord has sworn an oath he will not change.
‘You are a priest for ever,
a priest like Melchizedek of old.’
You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek. (R./)

2nd Reading: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

A reading from the first letter of St Paul to the Corinthians

Every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are proclaiming the death of the Lord.

This is what I received from the Lord, and in turn passed on to you: that on the same night that he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread, and thanked God for it and broke it, and he said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this as a memorial of me.” In the same way he took the cup after supper, and said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Whenever you drink it, do this as a memorial of me.”

Until the Lord comes, therefore, every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are proclaiming his death.

Gospel: Luke 9:11-17

They all ate and were filled

Jesus made the crowds welcome and talked to them about the kingdom of God; and he cured those who were in need of healing. It was late afternoon when the Twelve came to him and said, “Send the people away, and they can go to the villages and farms round about to find lodging and food; for we are in a lonely place here.”

He replied, “Give them something to eat yourselves.” But they said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish, unless we are to go ourselves and buy food for all these people.” For there were about five thousand men. But he said to his disciples, “Get them to sit down in parties of about fifty.”

They did so and made them all sit down. Then he took the five loaves and the two fish, raised his eyes to heaven, and said the blessing over them; then he broke them and handed them to his disciples to distribute among the crowd. They all ate as much as they wanted, and when the scraps remaining were collected they filled twelve baskets.



Never forgotten

We honour the Real Presence, and appreciate the Holy Eucharist as a channel of grace. Or we could focus on its effect of forming us into the body of Christ. But on this feast we could also centre on a verse from the Eucharistic Prayer: Do this in memory of me. Why are those words this so central? Because the Last Supper has in fact been so well remembered, over the centuries. Jesus did not want his spirit of sharing to be forgotten. He did not want his love to be forgotten. He did not want his life and his sacrifice to be forgotten. And in our Eucharist he is forever remembered and made present to us, in ways that give us life.

The Pharaohs had mammoth Pyramids built along the Nile, to make their names forever remembered. But who recalls those megalomaniac Pharaohs today?  What our Lord did was much simpler. He took two simple elements, Bread and Wine, and promised that whenever his friends gathered for a meal with prayer he would be with them. How well it has worked!

In the early years, Christians met in each other’s homes to eat the bread and drink the wine, in memory of Jesus Christ. Nowadays the Eucharist is normally celebrated in church, usisng a set structure. But despite the ritual differences, we still gather together around the table of the Lord. We remember Jesus, his compassion, his generosity, his forgiveness, his teachings, his miracles, and his love. He wanted to be remembered like this, and he still is. As Paul wrote, “every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are proclaiming his death.” We gratefully remember his passion; but we are also gladly aware of his living presence among us.

Feeding the people, today

Jesus wanted  to feed the hungry crowd, but did not distribute the food in person. Rather, he tells the twelve to do that: “Give them something to eat.” They complained about the limited resources, that could not provide for everyone. Some churchmen today make a similar reply. Since we have not the manpower to provide the Bread of Life for all, we must close down parishes for shortage of priests. So parishes are clustered, chapels are shut, and we hunker down, praying that new, celibate vocations will come forward if we pray hard enough. But are we trying to put new wine into old-wineskins, the clerical structures of yester-year? Pope Francis seems open to the possibility of “Viri Probati” helping to resolve the shortage.

We need to believe Jesus when he says: “You have all that is needed.” If we cling doggedly to our limited perceptions, unwilling to change our outlook, we are set to lose. It will contradict this Gospel if we don’t draw on the cooperation of others to make sure that all without exception can share at the Lord’s table. If we use willing helpers to make the Bread of Life available, we can see what the apostles discovered:  a full basket for each of the givers.

Jesus did not pitch his tent among us in order to live in a golden tabernacle. Food is for the feeding of the people. The purpose of the Real Presence in the Eucharist is to feed the people, so that we will be Christ’s living presence in the world today. With him, we too are the Bread that is to be broken for the life of the world.

In joyful fellowship

Sitting together for a meal can create a kind of intimacy. Hopefully we all have good memories  like that, of occasions of celebration and laughter, of love received and shared. Some such meals were on some sad occasion, after the funeral of someone dear who has just been laid to rest.

Jesus shared many meals with his followers. Often it was while dining together that he shared with them his vision of God’s kingdom, the focus of his own heart and spirit. Of all the meals he shared with them, the one that stayed in their memory more than any other was their last supper, on the eve of his passion and death. St Paul tells some of what was said at that last supper, and what it means to celebrate it still.

At this last supper he did more than share his vision with the disciples. He actually gave himself to them, anticipating the death he would die on the following day. In giving himself in the form of bread and wine, he promised to nourish and support them, to be their food and drink. In sharing this special, spiritual meal, they were to take their stand with him, give themselves to him as he was giving himself to them.

It was because of what He did and said at that las supper that we are gathered here today. He meant his last supper to be a beginning rather than an end. It was the first Eucharist. Ever since then, his church has gathered regularly in his name, to follow his instructions — taking bread and wine, blessing both, and giving them as food and drink to his disciples, to help them follow him.

He still asks us to live by his values and walk in his way, even if at times it is the way of the cross. When we receive the holy Eucharist, we are trusting him to satisfy our deepest needs. We renew our promise to be faithful to him, a holy, solemn promise. Our joining in Mass is like being in that upper room with the first disciples, and making Jesus our our bread of life.

I Mhuintearas Áthasach


Iarann Dia orainn a dhea-shampla a chruthú agus a lorg a leanúint, fiú más turas na croise é. Cibé am a glactar le Corp Chríost, iarrtar air a bhfuil de dhíth orainn. Geallaimid bheith dílis Dó le focail dearfa doimhin. Fiú dúinn freastal ar Aifreann laethúil, an bhfuilimíd dall agus bodhar i dtaobh teachtaireacht Dé? Dealraíonn sé bheith sa Seomra Coisire leis na Deisceabail ag cruthú Íosa mar bronntóir Arán na Beatha.


One Response

  1. Joe O'Leary

    My thoughts on the Eucharist are here: https://josephsoleary.typepad.com/my_weblog/2011/05/rethinking-the-eucharist.html

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