Thứ Bảy, 17 tháng 6, 2017

JUNE 18, 2017 : SOLEMNITY OF THE BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST

Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ
Lectionary: 167

Moses said to the people:
"Remember how for forty years now the LORD, your God,
has directed all your journeying in the desert,
so as to test you by affliction
and find out whether or not it was your intention
to keep his commandments. 
He therefore let you be afflicted with hunger,
and then fed you with manna,
a food unknown to you and your fathers,
in order to show you that not by bread alone does one live,
but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the LORD.

"Do not forget the LORD, your God,
who brought you out of the land of Egypt,
that place of slavery;
who guided you through the vast and terrible desert
with its saraph serpents and scorpions,
its parched and waterless ground;
who brought forth water for you from the flinty rock
and fed you in the desert with manna,
a food unknown to your fathers."

Responsorial PsalmPS 147:12-13, 14-15, 19-20
R. (12) Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Glorify the LORD, O Jerusalem;
praise your God, O Zion.
For he has strengthened the bars of your gates;
he has blessed your children within you.
R. Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.
or:
R. Alleluia.
He has granted peace in your borders;
with the best of wheat he fills you.
He sends forth his command to the earth;
swiftly runs his word!
R. Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.
or:
R. Alleluia.
He has proclaimed his word to Jacob,
his statutes and his ordinances to Israel.
He has not done thus for any other nation;
his ordinances he has not made known to them. Alleluia.
R. Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Reading 21 COR 10:16-17
Brothers and sisters:
The cup of blessing that we bless,
is it not a participation in the blood of Christ?
The bread that we break,
is it not a participation in the body of Christ?
Because the loaf of bread is one,
we, though many, are one body,
for we all partake of the one loaf.

Sequence — Lauda Sion
Laud, O Zion, your salvation,
Laud with hymns of exultation,
Christ, your king and shepherd true:

Bring him all the praise you know,
He is more than you bestow.
Never can you reach his due.

Special theme for glad thanksgiving
Is the quick'ning and the living
Bread today before you set:

From his hands of old partaken,
As we know, by faith unshaken,
Where the Twelve at supper met.

Full and clear ring out your chanting,
Joy nor sweetest grace be wanting,
From your heart let praises burst:

For today the feast is holden,
When the institution olden
Of that supper was rehearsed.

Here the new law's new oblation,
By the new king's revelation,
Ends the form of ancient rite:

Now the new the old effaces,
Truth away the shadow chases,
Light dispels the gloom of night.

What he did at supper seated,
Christ ordained to be repeated,
His memorial ne'er to cease:

And his rule for guidance taking,
Bread and wine we hallow, making
Thus our sacrifice of peace.

This the truth each Christian learns,
Bread into his flesh he turns,
To his precious blood the wine:

Sight has fail'd, nor thought conceives,
But a dauntless faith believes,
Resting on a pow'r divine.

Here beneath these signs are hidden
Priceless things to sense forbidden;
Signs, not things are all we see:

Blood is poured and flesh is broken,
Yet in either wondrous token
Christ entire we know to be.

Whoso of this food partakes,
Does not rend the Lord nor breaks;
Christ is whole to all that taste:

Thousands are, as one, receivers,
One, as thousands of believers,
Eats of him who cannot waste.

Bad and good the feast are sharing,
Of what divers dooms preparing,
Endless death, or endless life.

Life to these, to those damnation,
See how like participation
Is with unlike issues rife.

When the sacrament is broken,
Doubt not, but believe 'tis spoken,
That each sever'd outward token
doth the very whole contain.

Nought the precious gift divides,
Breaking but the sign betides
Jesus still the same abides,
still unbroken does remain.

The shorter form of the sequence begins here.

Lo! the angel's food is given
To the pilgrim who has striven;
see the children's bread from heaven,
which on dogs may not be spent.

Truth the ancient types fulfilling,
Isaac bound, a victim willing,
Paschal lamb, its lifeblood spilling,
manna to the fathers sent.

Very bread, good shepherd, tend us,
Jesu, of your love befriend us,
You refresh us, you defend us,
Your eternal goodness send us
In the land of life to see.

You who all things can and know,
Who on earth such food bestow,
Grant us with your saints, though lowest,
Where the heav'nly feast you show,
Fellow heirs and guests to be. Amen. Alleluia.

AlleluiaJN 6:51
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the living bread that came down from heaven, says the Lord;
whoever eats this bread will live forever.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelJN 6:51-58
Jesus said to the Jewish crowds:
"I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever;
and the bread that I will give
is my flesh for the life of the world."

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying,
"How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" 
Jesus said to them,
"Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,
you do not have life within you. 
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
has eternal life,
and I will raise him on the last day. 
For my flesh is true food,
and my blood is true drink. 
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
remains in me and I in him. 
Just as the living Father sent me
and I have life because of the Father,
so also the one who feeds on me
will have life because of me. 
This is the bread that came down from heaven. 
Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died,
whoever eats this bread will live forever."


Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ – Cycle A
(Corpus Christi)


Note: Where a Scripture text is underlined in the body of this discussion, it is recommended that the reader look up and read that passage.

Introduction

Corpus Christi is a doctrinal feast established in honor of Christ present in the Eucharist. Its purpose is to instruct the people in the mystery, faith, and devotion surrounding the Eucharist. The celebration of the feast evolved during the 13th and 14th centuries. The Berengarian heresy of the mid-11th century (named after Berengar of Tours) taught that the Eucharist was only the figure of Christ. By the 13th century reception of communion was less emphasized and was to some extent superseded by merely seeing the Host. In 1209 Juliana of Liege had a vision which demanded a feast specifically for the Eucharist. After much persuasion the feast was celebrated for the first time in 1247, and Pope Urban IV extended it to the Universal Church in 1264. Although there is trustworthy evidence that Saint Thomas Aquinas composed two offices for the feast, it is by no means clear that the office now used is from his pen.

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

On the plains of Moab, God charges Moses, now close to death, once more to proclaim the Law which he received through the revelation on Mount Sinai. This proclamation is contained in the 5th and last book of the Pentateuch called in Hebrew had-deb harim (the words) and by the Septuagint deuteronomion (second law). Moses is addressing a new generation of Israelites, all those who would have been under the age of 20 when the exodus began. By having the Law read again, Yahweh is saying that His covenant with Israel is made with all generations (Deuteronomy 29:13), past, present, and future: it is an everlasting covenant. We will read all of Deuteronomy chapter 8 in order to appreciate the context of today’s reading.

8:1 “Be careful to observe all the commandments I enjoin on you today, that you may live and increase, and may enter in and possess the land which the LORD promised on oath to your fathers. 2 Remember how for forty years now the LORD, your God, has directed all your journeying in the desert, so as to test you by affliction and find out whether or not it was your intention to keep his commandments.

Drawing lessons from the past. With themes of divine guidance and providence He uses the wilderness experience as a humbling and testing of Israel.

3    He therefore let you be afflicted with hunger, and then fed you with manna, a food unknown to you and your fathers, in order to show you that not by bread alone does man live, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the LORD.

This is a sort of homiletic on the manna narrative (Exodus 16; Numbers 11:16-23) which shows the importance of living by the word of God.

4    The clothing did not fall from you in tatters, nor did your feet swell these forty years. 5 So you must realize that the LORD, your God, disciplines you even as a man disciplines his son. 6 “Therefore, keep the commandments of the LORD, your God, by walking in his ways and fearing him. 7 For the LORD, your God, is bringing you into a good country, a land with streams of water, with springs and fountains welling up in the hills and valleys, 8 a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, of olive trees and of honey, 9 a land where you can eat bread without stint and where you will lack nothing, a land whose stones contain iron and in whose hills you can mine copper. 10 But when you have eaten your fill, you must bless the LORD, your God, for the good country he has given you. 11 Be careful not to forget the LORD, your God, by neglecting his commandments and decrees and statutes which I enjoin on you today: 12 lest, when you have eaten your fill, and have built fine houses and lived in them, 13 and have increased your herds and flocks, your silver and gold, and all your property, 14 you then become haughty of heart and unmindful of the LORD, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery; 15 who guided you through the vast and terrible desert with its saraph serpents and scorpions,

The name “seraph” means “fiery”.  Seraphim (the choir of angles closest to God’s burning love) are depicted elsewhere in Holy Scripture as winged serpents (Isaiah 6:1-7; 14:29; 30:6). The association with scorpions suggests the effect of its bite.

its parched and waterless ground; who brought forth water for you from the flinty rock 16 and fed you in the desert with manna, a food unknown to your fathers, that he might afflict you and test you, but also make you prosperous in the end.

Notice how he warns about the danger of amnesia and how, with a good historical memory a proper social ethic will be followed.

17 Otherwise, you might say to yourselves, ‘It is my own power and the strength of my own hand that has obtained for me this wealth.’ 18 Remember then, it is the LORD, your God, who gives you the power to acquire wealth, by fulfilling, as he has now done, the covenant which he swore to your fathers. 19 But if you forget the LORD, your God, and follow other gods, serving and worshiping them, I forewarn you this day that you will perish utterly. 20 Like the nations which the LORD destroys before you, so shall you too perish for not heeding the voice of the LORD, your God.

2nd Reading - 1 Corinthians 10:16-17

Saint Paul established the Christian community at Corinth during his second missionary journey (A.D. 50-52). He preached the gospel there for a year and a half, aided by Silas and Timothy. After he left Corinth, the city had a series of apostolic visitors. Apollos, a brilliant preacher (Acts 18:24-26) arrived about a year after Paul left. It is likely that around this time Peter also paid a short visit to Corinth, although it is not recorded. This letter was written shortly before Easter 57 and offers the Corinthians guidance on some areas that they have found problematic. One of the problems which Paul addresses is the significance of social gestures. The idea of unity and fellowship with God through eating a sacrifice was strong in Judaism and Christianity as well as in paganism. In Old Testament days, when a Jew offered a sacrifice, he ate a part of that sacrifice as a way of restoring his unity with God, against whom he had sinned (Deuteronomy 12:17-18). By participating in temple banquets (there were temples dedicated to the cult of the emperor, to various Greek deities, and to Egyptian gods in Corinth), Christians had no intention of worshiping idols, but Paul believed that such social gestures had an objective significance independent of the intentions of those who made them; they gave the appearance of acceptance and worship, even when it was not intended. He makes his point by using the Eucharist as an example of a banquet of unity. Catholic Christians participate in Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice when they eat and drink the Body and Blood of Our Lord in Holy Communion.

16    The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?

Saint Paul begins his argument by establishing a common ground. The Corinthian Christians accept the identification of the bread and wine of the Eucharist with Christ and believe that the sharing of this meal produces a common-union (communion), a shared-union (koinonia in Greek) – a union which has two focuses: Christ, and other believers. Note that the “cup of blessing” is the third cup of the Passover meal.

“That bread which you see on the altar, having been consecrated by the word of God, is the Body of Christ. That chalice, or rather, what is in that chalice, consecrated by the word of God, is the Blood of Christ. Through that bread and wine the Lord Christ willed to commend to us His Body and the Blood which He poured out for the remission of sins. If you have received worthily, you are what you have received.” [Saint Augustine of Hippo (ca. A.D. 391), Easter Sunday Homily, 227]

17    Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.

Sharing the one life-source, the Body of Christ, all believers constitute one body whose diversity is rooted in its unity. All consecrated bread constitutes the one loaf as Christ is present wholly (Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity) in each piece so that it all becomes the one loaf.

“‘Because the Bread is one, we, the many, are in one body.’ ‘Why do I say “communion?’” He says; ‘for we are that very Body.’ What is the Bread? The Body of Christ! Not many bodies, but one Body. For just as the bread, consisting of many grains, is made one, and the grains are no longer evident, but still exist, though their distinction is not apparent in their conjunction; so too we are conjoined to each other and to Christ. For you are not nourished by one Body while someone else is nourished by another Body; rather, all are nourished by the same Body.” [Saint John Chrysostom (A.D. 392), Homilies on the First Epistle to the Corinthians 24,2(4)]

“When you see [the Body of Christ] lying on the altar, say to yourself, ‘Because of this Body I am no longer earth and ash, no longer a prisoner, but free. Because of this Body I hope for heaven, and I hope to receive the good things that are in heaven, immortal life, the lot of the angels, familiar conversation with Christ. This Body, scourged and crucified, has not been fetched by death. ... This is that Body which was blood-stained, which was pierced by a lance, and from which gushed forth those saving fountains, one of blood and the other of water, for all the world.’ ... This is the Body which He gave us, both to hold in reserve and to eat, which was appropriate to intense love; for those whom we kiss with abandon we often even bite with our teeth.” [Saint John Chrysostom (A.D. 392), Homilies on the First Epistle to the Corinthians 24,4(7)]
For a companion reading, see 1 Corinthians 11:23-30.

Gospel - John 6:51-58

The time is about one year before Jesus’ death and resurrection. There are three Passover periods mentioned in Holy Scripture; all of which appear in the Gospel of John:

Jn 2:13-23   The cleansing of the temple immediately after the marriage feast at Cana.
Jn 6:4   The feeding of the 5,000 which, along with Jesus’ walking on water, immediately precede this bread of life discourse. Jn 11:55   Jesus’ passion and death

The Gospels of Matthew and Mark also include miraculous healings, the casting out of demons, and the feeding of the 4,000 prior to this event.

51    I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever;

This is the third time (verses 35 & 48 are the other two) that He identifies Himself as the “Bread of Life.” In Hebrew numerology the number three represents completeness. Jesus does not attempt to soften or alter His teaching. It is the literal meaning, not a figurative or metaphorical one, that He is trying to drive home.

and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

The Eucharistic theme has been reached; the mystery has been revealed (see also Hebrews 10:5-10).

52    The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us (his) flesh to eat?”

Many of the hearers have understood perfectly well what Jesus is saying and that He means exactly what He says, but they can’t believe that what He says could be true. How can He give them His flesh to eat? Is He going to start carving up His arm? Others may have been confused by a Semitic figure of speech where to “eat someone’s flesh” was to slander him (Psalm 27:2). If they had understood Him in a metaphorical, figurative or symbolic sense, there would have been no reason for them to quarrel. Just as Nicodemus thought of being born again in the purely physical sense (John 3:4), and the woman at the well thought only of natural water (John 4:11), so now the Jews understand the reference to His flesh literally.

53    Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you,

We normally end our prayers with “amen” but Jesus begins His statement in this manner. Amen means “truly”, “so be it”, “I do believe”. The doubled Amen is a solemn affirmation, an oath. The faithful and true witness is Christ, the Amen (Revelation 3:14). Since two witnesses are required to sentence someone to death (Deuteronomy 17:6), Jesus is bearing the part of both witnesses and alerting them that what he is going to say has life and death consequences. This is the fourth time He has reminded them that this is a life and death situation.

unless you eat the flesh

The Greek verb used for “eat” is φαγω (fag-o). The significance of this will be seen in the next verse.

of the Son of Man

Recall that “Son of Man” is a term which Jesus applies to Himself, the New Adam (Daniel 7:13), the one who will affect the resurrection (Ezekiel 37). Jesus’ words do not encourage any figurative understanding of His pronouncement, they only underscore the literal meaning.

and drink his blood,

If the idea of eating someone’s flesh is repugnant, what about drinking their blood? To the Jewish audience this would be even more repulsive. Blood was a forbidden food under the Law (Leviticus 7:27; 17:10-14), the penalty for which was to be expelled from the tribe; they would be excommunicated. “flesh and blood” is a common Old Testament expression for life. When the two are separated, death results. By taking both, they must be partaking of a living being.

you do not have life within you.

Are dead, have no spirit.

54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood

The Greek verb used here for “eat” is τρóγo (tro’-go) is actually much stronger than just simply “eat” it literally means “chew”, “gnaw”. This shows that it is a real meal that He is talking about. There is now absolutely no room for saying that He is speaking symbolically. Not only has He reiterated the statement, He has strengthened it.

has eternal life,

A guarantee of life eternal. If He had been speaking symbolically, He would have been commanding them to slander Him or suffer the pain of eternal damnation.

and I will raise him on the last day.

A pledge which only God can make.

55    For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.

If there had been any questions before, there is now no question at all that He is speaking quite literally.

56    Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood

Again the strong verb is used for eating. This is the fourth time, in four verses, that Jesus has said they must eat His Flesh and drink His Blood. The number four in Hebrew numerology stands for the world in its entirety (four winds, four cardinal points of the compass). The Eucharist is God’s gift to the whole world. With this rapid four verse repetition, it’s almost like Jesus is saying “what part of ‘eat’ and ‘drink’ don’t you understand?”. God is not stupid; when hearers misunderstand Jesus, He corrects their misunderstanding immediately (see John 3:3-6 for example, where Jesus corrects Nicodemus’ understanding of “born again” and explains that it is not a physical rebirth but a spiritual rebirth through baptism). Here, no correction is made because no misunderstanding exists.
 remains in me and I in him.

This is covenant imagery. When people are bound by a common covenant, they are part of the same family. A person may be cast out of the tribe for drinking blood, but in doing so in this case they are made a member of the Body of Christ; an even bigger and more important family. By eating His body and drinking His blood, they are partaking in the family meal which binds them together. John 15:4 utilizes this same covenant imagery.

57    Just as the living Father sent me

What kind of life does the Father have? A spiritual/immortal one; God is not mortal.

and I have life because of the Father,

The Father and Son are one (John 14:10-11; 5:21-24); they share a life with the Holy Spirit (John 1:32; 15:26). They are a common union (communion).

so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.

Will share His eternal life. The Christian shares a communion with Christ (1 Corinthians 10:16). How is this communion shared with Christ and the Christian community? The same way every family shares communion; by sharing a common meal – the Eucharist.

58    This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

This is the third time in this discourse (verses 31, 32 and 49) that Jesus compares the true Bread of Life, His own Body, with the manna God used to feed the Israelites every day during their 40 years of wandering. That bread was only a faint type of the Eucharist, the sacrament of life. It sustained them for 40 years; this will sustain them through all eternity. 

St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, Picayune, MS http://www.scborromeo.org


Meditation: "He who eats this bread will live forever"
: What is the bread of life which Jesus offers to all who believe in him? It is first of all the life of God himself - life which sustains us not only now in this age but also in the age to come. The Rabbis said that the generation in the wilderness have no part in the life to come. In the Book of Numbers it is recorded that the people who refused to brave the dangers of the promised land were condemned to wander in the wilderness until they died. The Rabbis believed that the father who missed the promised land also missed the life to come. God sustained the Israelites in the wilderness with manna from heaven. This bread foreshadowed the true heavenly bread which Jesus would offer his followers.
Jesus is the "bread of life"
Jesus makes a claim only God can make: He is the true bread of heaven that can satisfy the deepest hunger we experience. The manna from heaven prefigured the superabundance of the unique bread of the Eucharist or Lord's Supper which Jesus gave to his disciples on the eve of his sacrifice. The manna in the wilderness sustained the Israelites on their journey to the Promised Land. It could not produce eternal life for the Israelites. The bread which Jesus offers his disciples sustains us not only on our journey to the heavenly paradise, it gives us the abundant supernatural life of God which sustains us for all eternity.
The food that makes us live forever
Jesus chose the time of the Jewish Feast of Passover to fulfill what he had announced at Capernaum - giving his disciples his body and his blood as the true bread of heaven. Jesus' passing over to his Father by his death and resurrection - the new passover - is anticipated in the Last Supper and celebrated in the Eucharist or Lord's Supper, which fulfills the Jewish Passover and anticipates the final Passover of the church in the glory of God's kingdom. When the Lord Jesus commands his disciples to eat his flesh and drink his blood, he invites us to take his life into the very center of our being. That life which he offers is the very life of God himself. 
Do you hunger for the "bread of life"? 
Jesus offers us the abundant supernatural life of heaven itself - but we can miss it or even refuse it. To refuse Jesus is to refuse eternal life, unending life with the Heavenly Father. To accept Jesus as the bread of heaven is not only life and spiritual nourishment for this world but glory in the world to come. 
When we receive from the Lord's table we unite ourselves to Jesus Christ, who makes us sharers in his body and blood and partakers of his divine life. Ignatius of Antioch (35-107 A.D.) calls it the "one bread that provides the medicine of immortality, the antidote for death, and the food that makes us live for ever in Jesus Christ" (Ad Eph. 20,2). This supernatural food is healing for both body and soul and strength for our journey heavenward.
When you approach the Table of the Lord, what do you expect to receive? Healing, pardon, comfort, and rest for your soul? The Lord has much more for us, more than we can ask or imagine. The principal fruit of receiving the Eucharist or Lord's Supper is an intimate union with Christ. As bodily nourishment restores lost strength, so the Eucharist strengthens us in charity and enables us to break with disordered attachments to creatures and to be more firmly rooted in the love of Christ. Do you hunger for the "bread of life"?
"Lord Jesus, you nourish and sustain us with your very own presence and life-giving word. You are the bread of life - the heavenly food that sustains us now and that produces everlasting life within us. May I always hunger for you and be satisfied in you alone."

Daily Quote from the early church fathersLet faith confirm you, by Cyril of Jerusalem, 315-386 A.D.
"Failing to understand his words spiritually, [the Jews] were offended and drew back, thinking that the Savior was urging them to cannibalism. Then again in the old covenant there was the showbread. But that, since it belonged to the old covenant, has come to an end. In the new covenant there are the bread of heaven and the cup of salvation, which sanctify body and soul. For as bread corresponds to the body, so the Word is appropriate to the soul. So do not think of them as mere bread and wine. In accordance with the Lord's declaration, they are body and blood. And if our senses suggests otherwise, let faith confirm you. Do not judge the issue on the basis of taste, but on the basis of faith be assured beyond all doubt that you have been allowed to receive the body and blood of Christ. (excerpt from MYSTAGOGICAL LECTURES 4.4–6)

SOLEMNITY OF THE MOST HOLY BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST
SUNDAY, JUNE 18, JOHN 6:51-58

(Deuteronomy 8:2-3,14b-16a; Psalm 147; 1 Corinthians 10:16-17)

KEY VERSE: "Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them" (v.56).
TO KNOW: In John's account of Jesus' multiplication of the loaves in the wilderness, he moved from the wisdom theme of Jesus' discourse on the Bread of Life, to the Sacramental theme. The vocabulary changes graphically: "flesh and "blood," and "eat and drink." Jesus spoke clearly of the nourishment of his body and blood given to us in the Eucharist. His flesh was "real food" and his blood was "real drink." The Greek word used for dining is phagos. Jesus uses the word trogos, which means "to gnaw," or "to munch." In Jewish thought blood stood for life, and the blood belonged to God. That is why to this day orthodox Jews will not eat meat that is not completely drained of blood (kosher). When Jesus told his followers that they must eat his flesh and drink his blood he meant that they must take his very life into themselves. Jesus is the supreme "sacrament" of God, nourishing the faithful with his own body and blood on their spiritual journey. Without this sacred food, we cannot have eternal communion with him and his Father. How unfortunate that those who claim a literal interpretation of other passages of scripture, deny the reality of Jesus' real presence in the Eucharist as explained by Jesus himself.
TO LOVE: Do I understand the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist? Could I explain it to others?
TO SERVE: Lord Jesus, feed me at your table of eternal life.

NOTE: The Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms: "At the heart of the Eucharistic celebration are the bread and wine that, by the words of Christ and the invocation of the Holy Spirit, become Christ's Body and Blood" (#1333). 

Father's Day (USA)

The United States is one of the few countries in the world that has an official day on which fathers are honored by their children. In 1909, Mrs. Dodd thought of the idea for Father's Day while listening to a Mother's Day sermon. She approached her minister in Spokane about having a church service dedicated to fathers. From then on, the state of Washington celebrated the third Sunday in June as Father's Day. Other states and organizations began lobbying Congress to declare an annual Father's Day. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson approved of this idea, but it was not until 1924 when President Calvin Coolidge made it a national event to "establish more intimate relations between fathers and their children and to impress upon fathers the full measure of their obligations." In 1966 President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation declaring the 3rd Sunday of June as Father's Day and put the official stamp on a celebration that was going on for almost half a century. “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are!” (I John 3:1)


Sunday 18 June 2017

Body and Blood of Christ. Week II Psalter
Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14-16. Psalms 147:12-15, 19-20. 1 Corinthians 10:16-17. John 6:51-58.
Praise the Lord, Jerusalem — Psalms 147:12-15, 19-20.
Is the exaltation of the self in conflict with the exaltation of God?
Once, Thomas Merton was talking to the novices on how the self and God are in relationship. A brother remarked, ‘We came here to lose ourselves.’ Merton replied, ‘First we must have a self to lose.’
Today’s readings are firm as to whom the benefits of a blessed life are to be attributed—to God alone. Indeed, St Paul remarks on the need to identify who is set before us, and our response to him. But for Jesus, speaking to us as the life giver, the invitation is personal and has little criteria apart from faith and acceptance. How does this relate to us in our current way of life? What of ourselves do we bring to the table? How will we look when we are in Christ?

SOLEMNITY OF THE MOST HOLY BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ is also known as the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, which translates from Latin to "Body of Christ." This feast originated in France in the midthirteenth century and was extended to the whole Church by Pope Urban IV in 1264. This feast is celebrated on the Thursday following the Trinity Sunday or, as in the USA, on the Sunday following that feast.
This feast calls us to focus on two manifestations of the Body of Christ, the Holy Eucharist and the Church. The primary purpose of this feast is to focus our attention on the Eucharist. The opening prayer at Mass calls our attention to Jesus' suffering and death and our worship of Him, especially in the Eucharist.
At every Mass our attention is called to the Eucharist and the Real Presence of Christ in it. The secondary focus of this feast is upon the Body of Christ as it is present in the Church. The Church is called the Body of Christ because of the intimate communion which Jesus shares with his disciples. He expresses this in the gospels by using the metaphor of a body in which He is the head. This image helps keep in focus both the unity and the diversity of the Church.
The Feast of Corpus Christi is commonly used as an opportunity for public Eucharistic processions, which serves as a sign of common faith and adoration. Our worship of Jesus in His Body and Blood calls us to offer to God our Father a pledge of undivided love and an offering of ourselves to the service of others.

LECTIO: BODY BLOOD OF CHRIST-CORPUS CHRISTI(A)
Lectio Divina: 
 Sunday, June 18, 2017
Jesus is the Bread of Life
“Anyone who eats this Bread will live forever”
John 6, 51-58

1. OPENING PRAYER
 Lord Jesus, send your Spirit to help us read the Scriptures with the same mind that you read them to the disciples on the way to Emmaus. In the light of the Word, written in the Bible, you helped them to discover the presence of God in the disturbing events of your sentence and death. Thus, the cross that seemed to be the end of all hope became for them the source of life and of resurrection.
Create in us silence so that we may listen to your voice in Creation and in the Scriptures, in events and in people, above all in the poor and suffering. May your word guide us so that we too, like the two disciples from Emmaus, may experience the force of your resurrection and witness to others that you are alive in our midst as source of fraternity, justice and peace. We ask this of you, Jesus, son of Mary, who revealed to us the Father and sent us your Spirit. Amen.
2. READING
a) A key to the reading:
On the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ we meditate on the last part of the long discourse on the Bread of Life. During this discourse, the Gospel of John helps us to understand the deep meaning of the multiplication of the bread and of the Eucharist. During the reading, we will try to be attentive to the words of Jesus which help people to understand the sign of the Bread of Life.
b) A division of the Text to help in the reading:
John 6,51: The initial affirmation which summarizes everything
John 6,52: The contrary reaction of the Jews
John 6, 53-54: The response of Jesus affirms what he said before
John 6,55-58: Jesus draws the conclusion for life
c) The Text:
51 I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world.' 52 Then the Jews started arguing among themselves, 'How can this man give us his flesh to eat?' 53 Jesus replied to them: In all truth I tell you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood has eternal life, and I shall raise that person up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in that person. 57 As the living Father sent me and I draw life from the Father, so whoever eats me will also draw life from me. 58 This is the bread which has come down from heaven; it is not like the bread our ancestors ate: they are dead, but anyone who eats this bread will live for ever.
3. A MOMENT OF PRAYERFUL SILENCE
so that the Word of God may penetrate and enlighten our life.
4. SOME QUESTIONS
to help us in our personal reflection.
a) Which part of the text struck me the most? Why?
b) How many times in the text, is the word life used and what does it tell us about life?
c) Jesus says: “I am the living Bread which has come down from heaven”. What does this mean? Look for an answer in the text.
d) What does this text tell us about the Person of Jesus: titles, functions, etc.?
e) In what way does this text help us to understand better the significance of the Eucharist?
5. FOR THOSE WHO DESIRE TO GO DEEPER INTO THE DISCOURSE OF THE BREAD OF LIFE.
a) Context in which our text is situated in the discourse of the Bread of Life:
The discourse on the Bread of Life (Jn 6,22-71) is a sequence of seven brief dialogues between Jesus and the persons who were with him after the multiplication of the loaves. Jesus tries to open the eyes of people, making them understand that it is not sufficient to struggle to get the material bread. The daily struggle for material bread does not touch the roots if it is not accompanied by mysticism. The human being does not only live by bread! (Dt 8,3) the seven brief dialogues are a very beautiful catechesis which explains to people the profound significance of the multiplication of the loaves and of the Eucharist. Throughout the dialogue appear the exigencies which the living out of faith in Jesus traces for our life. People react. They remain surprised by the words of Jesus. But Jesus does not cede, he does not change his requirements. And because of this, many abandon him. Even now the same thing happens: when the Gospel begins to demand a commitment, many people abandon it. In so far as the discourse of Jesus advances, less people remain around him. At the end, only the twelve remain and Jesus cannot even trust in them!
Here is the sequence of the seven dialogues which compose the long discourse on the Bread of Life:
John 6, 22-27:
1st Dialogue: People seek Jesus because they want more bread
John 6, 28-33:
2nd Dialogue: Jesus asks the people to work for the true bread
John 6, 34-40:
3rd Dialogue: The true bread is to do the will of God
John 6, 41-51:
4th Dialogue: He who opens himself to God accepts Jesus and his proposal
John 6, 52-58:
5th Dialogue: Flesh and Blood: expression of life and of the total gift
John 6, 59-66:
6th Dialogue: Without the light of the Spirit these words cannot be understood
John 6, 67-71: 
7th Dialogue: Confession of Peter
b) Comment on the seven dialogues which make up the discourse of the Bread of Life:
The year 2005 is the Year of the Eucharist. This is the reason why, instead of commenting only on the eight verses of the Gospel of this Sunday (John 6, 51-58), we have thought of giving a general key to understand the seven brief dialogues which make up the whole discourse. A global vision of the whole will help to understand better the meaning and the importance of the eight verses of the liturgical text of this day of Corpus Christi.
1st Dialogue - John 6, 22-27: The people look for Jesus because they want more bread

22 Next day, the crowd that had stayed on the other side saw that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not got into the boat with his disciples, but that the disciples had set off by themselves. 23 Other boats, however, had put in from Tiberias, near the place where the bread had been eaten. 24 When the people saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into those boats and crossed to Capernaum to look for Jesus. 25 When they found him on the other side, they said to him, 'Rabbi, when did you come here?' 26 Jesus answered: In all truth I tell you, you are looking for me not because you have seen the signs but because you had all the bread you wanted to eat. 27 Do not work for food that goes bad, but work for food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of man will give you, for on him the Father, God himself, has set his seal.
The people see the miracle, but they do not understand that it is a question of a sign of something greater and more profound. They stop only on the superficial aspect of the fact, in the distribution of the food. They look for the bread of life, but only for the body. According to the people, Jesus does something which Moses had already done in the past: to feed everyone. And the people wanted the past to be repeated. But Jesus asks the people to take one more step. Do not work for food that goes bad, but work for food that endures for eternal life.
2nd Dialogue – John 6, 28-33: Jesus asks the people to work for the true bread

28 Then they said to him, 'What must we do if we are to carry out God's work?' 29 Jesus gave them this answer, 'This is carrying out God's work: you must believe in the one he has sent.' 30 So they said, 'What sign will you yourself do, the sight of which will make us believe in you? What work will you do? 31 Our fathers ate manna in the desert; as scripture says: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.' 32 Jesus answered them: In all truth I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, it is my Father who gives you the bread from heaven, the true bread; 33 for the bread of God is the bread which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.
The people ask: What must we do if we are to carry out God’s work? And Jesus answers: Believe in the One God has sent! That is, believe in Jesus. And the people react: Give us a sign to understand that you are truly the one sent by God. Our fathers ate the manna that Moses gave them! According to the people, Moses is and continues to be the great leader, in whom to believe. If Jesus wants the people to believe in him, he has to give them a greater sign than that given by Moses. Jesus answers that the bread given by Moses was not the true bread, because it did not guarantee the life of anyone. All died in the desert. The true bread of God is the one which overcomes death and gives life! Jesus tries to help people to liberate themselves from the schema of the past. For Jesus, fidelity to the past does not mean to close up oneself in the things of the past and to refuse or reject renewal. Fidelity to the past means to accept that which is new which is the fruit of the seed planted in the past.
3rd Dialogue - John 6, 34-40: The true bread is to do the will of God.

34 'Sir,' they said, 'give us that bread always.' 35 Jesus answered them: I am the bread of life. No one who comes to me will ever hunger; no one who believes in me will ever thirst. 36 But, as I have told you, you can see me and still you do not believe. 37 Everyone whom the Father gives me will come to me; I will certainly not reject anyone who comes to me, 38 because I have come from heaven, not to do my own will, but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 Now the will of him who sent me is that I should lose nothing of all that he has given to me, but that I should raise it up on the last day. 40 It is my Father's will that whoever sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and that I should raise that person up on the last day.
The people ask: Lord, give us that bread always! They thought that Jesus was speaking of a special bread. Then, Jesus answers clearly: “I am the bread of life!” To eat the bread of heaven is the same as believing in Jesus and accepting the path that he has shown us, that is: “My food is to do the will of the Father who is in heaven!” (Jn 4, 34). This is the true food which nourishes the person, which always gives us a new life. It is a seed that guarantees resurrection!
4th Dialogue – John 6, 41-51: He who opens himself to God accepts Jesus and his proposal

41 Meanwhile the Jews were complaining to each other about him, because he had said, 'I am the bread that has come down from heaven.' 42 They were saying, 'Surely this is Jesus son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know. How can he now say, "I have come down from heaven?" ' 43 Jesus said in reply to them, 'Stop complaining to each other. 44 'No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me, and I will raise that person up on the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets: They will all be taught by God; everyone who has listened to the Father, and learnt from him, comes to me. 46 Not that anybody has seen the Father, except him who has his being from God: he has seen the Father. 47 In all truth I tell you, everyone who believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate manna in the desert and they are dead; 50 but this is the bread which comes down from heaven, so that a person may eat it and not die. 51 I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world.'
The discourse becomes more demanding. Now it is the Jews, that is, the leaders of the people, who murmur: “Is he not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he say that he has come down from heaven?” They considered themselves capable of knowing and of recognizing the things that come from God. But they are mistaken. If they were truly open to the things of God, they would feel the impulse of God in themselves which attracts them toward Jesus and would recognize that Jesus comes from God (Jn 6, 45). In the celebration of the Passover, the Jews remembered the bread of the desert. Jesus helps them to take a step forward. The one who celebrates the Passover remembering only the bread which the fathers ate in the desert, will die like all of them died! The true sense of the Passover is not that of recalling the manna which in the past fell from heaven, but to accept Jesus, the Bread of Life who came down from Heaven and to follow the path that he has traced. It does not mean to eat the flesh of the paschal lamb, but the flesh of Jesus, who came down from heaven to give life to the world!
5th Dialogue - John 6, 52-58: Flesh and Blood: the expression of life and of the total gift.

52 Then the Jews started arguing among themselves, 'How can this man give us his flesh to eat?' 53 Jesus replied to them: In all truth I tell you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood has eternal life, and I shall raise that person up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in that person. 57 As the living Father sent me and I draw life from the Father, so whoever eats me will also draw life from me. 58 This is the bread which has come down from heaven; it is not like the bread our ancestors ate: they are dead, but anyone who eats this bread will live for ever.
The Jews react: “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” They did not understand these words of Jesus, because the profound respect for life demanded that from the time of the Old Testament it was forbidden to eat blood, because the blood was the sign of life (Dt 12, 16.23; At 15, 29). Besides, it was close to the Passover and in a few days everyone would have eaten the meat and the blood of the Paschal Lamb in the celebration of the night of the Passover. They took literally the words of Jesus, this is why they did not understand. To eat the flesh of Jesus meant to accept Jesus as the new Paschal Lamb, his blood will free them from slavery. To drink the blood of Jesus meant to assimilate his same way of life which characterized the life of Jesus. What gives life is not to celebrate the manna of the past, but rather to eat this new bread which is Jesus, his flesh and his blood. Participating in the Eucharistic Supper, we assimilate his life, his gift of self, his dedication.
6th Dialogue – John 6, 59-66: Without the light of the Spirit these words cannot be understood,

59 This is what he taught at Capernaum in the synagogue. 60 After hearing it, many of his followers said, 'This is intolerable language. How could anyone accept it?' 61 Jesus was aware that his followers were complaining about it and said, 'Does this disturb you? 62 What if you should see the Son of man ascend to where he was before? 63 'It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh has nothing to offer. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. 64 'But there are some of you who do not believe.' For Jesus knew from the outset who did not believe and who was to betray him. 65 He went on, 'This is why I told you that no one could come to me except by the gift of the Father.' 66 After this, many of his disciples went away and accompanied him no more.
Here ends the discourse of Jesus in the Synagogue of Capernaum. Many of his disciples thought: Jesus is exaggerating too much! He is putting an end to the celebration of the Passover! He is taking the central place of our religion! For this reason many people abandoned the community and no longer followed Jesus. Jesus reacts by saying: “It is the spirit who gives life, the flesh has nothing to offer. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life”. We should not take literally what he says. It is only with the help of the light of the Holy Spirit that it is possible to understand the full sense of everything that Jesus says (Jn 14, 25-26; 16, 12-13).
7th Dialogue - Jn 6, 67-71: Confession of Peter.

67 Then Jesus said to the Twelve, 'What about you, do you want to go away too?' 68 Simon Peter answered, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the message of eternal life, 69 and we believe; we have come to know that you are the Holy One of God.' 70 Jesus replied to them, 'Did I not choose the Twelve of you? Yet one of you is a devil.' 71 He meant Judas son of Simon Iscariot, since this was the man, one of the Twelve, who was to betray him.

At the end only the twelve remained. Jesus says to them: “What about you, do you want to go away too?” For Jesus, what is important is not the number of the people who are around him. He does not change the discourse when the message does not please others. Jesus speaks to reveal the Father and not to please others.
He prefers to remain alone, more than being accompanied by persons who do not accept the Father’s project. The response of Peter is beautiful: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the message of eternal life!” Even without understanding everything, Peter accepts Jesus and believes in him. In spite of all his limitations, Peter is not like Nicodemus who wished to see everything clearly, to confirm his own ideas. Even among the twelve there were persons who did not accept the proposal of Jesus.
a) To deepen more: Eucharist and New Exodus
In describing the multiplication of the loaves, the Gospel of John suggests a parallel with Exodus: Jesus who walks on the water and the discourse of the Bread of Life. This parallel shows that through the Eucharist a new Exodus takes place. The Eucharist helps us to live in a permanent state of Exodus:
i) The multiplication of the loaves (Jn 6, 1-15):
Jesus has before him a hungry crowd and the challenge to guarantee bread for all. Even though Moses had to face this challenge during the time of itinerancy of the people in the desert (Ex 16, 1-35; Num 11, 18-23). After having eaten, the people fed and satisfied recognize in Jesus the new Moses, the “Prophet who has to come to the world” (Jn 6,14), according to what has been announced in the Law of the Covenant (Dt 18, 15-22).
ii) Jesus walks on the water (Jn 6, 16-21):
In Exodus, the people is itinerant in order to obtain freedom and face and overcome the sea (Ex 14, 22). Jesus also, like Moses, dominates and overcomes the sea, preventing that the boat of his disciples be swallowed up by the waves, and does in such a way that they get safely to the other shore.
iii) The discourse on the bread of life (Jn 6, 22-58):
The discourse evokes Chapter 16 of the book of Exodus which describes the story of the manna. when Jesus speaks of “a food which does not perish” (Jn 6, 27), he is recalling the manna which perishes and is spoiled (Ex 16, 20). The Jews “murmuring” or complaining against Jesus (Jn 6, 41), do the same thing that the Israelites in the desert, who doubted of the presence of God in their long journey (Ex 16, 2; 17, 3; Num 11, 1). The Jews doubted of the presence of God in Jesus of Nazareth (Jn 6, 42). Jesus is the true manna who gives us eternal life.

6. PSALM 85 (84)
Justice and Peace embrace one another
Yahweh, you are gracious to your land,
you bring back the captives of Jacob,
you take away the guilt of your people,
you blot out all their sin.
You retract all your anger,
you renounce the heat of your fury.
Bring us back, God our Saviour,
appease your indignation against us!
Will you be angry with us for ever?
Will you prolong your wrath age after age?
Will you not give us life again,
for your people to rejoice in you?
Show us, Lord, your faithful love,
grant us your saving help.
I am listening. What is God's message?
Yahweh's message is peace for his people,
for his faithful, if only they renounce their folly.
His saving help is near for those who fear him,
his glory will dwell in our land.
Faithful Love and Loyalty join together,
Saving Justice and Peace embrace.
Loyalty will spring up from the earth,
and Justice will lean down from heaven.
Yahweh will himself give prosperity,
and our soil will yield its harvest.
Justice will walk before him,
treading out a path.
7. FINAL PRAYER
Lord Jesus, we thank for the word that has enabled us to understand better the will of the Father. May your Spirit enlighten our actions and grant us the strength to practice that which your Word has revealed to us. May we, like Mary, your mother, not only listen to but also practise the Word. You who live and reign with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit forever and ever. Amen