Friday, 1 June 2018

 June 3rd 2018.  Feast of Corpus Christi
GOSPEL   Mark: 12-16, 22-26
Translated from a homily by Don Fabio Rosini, broadcast on Vatican Radio
Don Fabio’s reflection follows the Gospel reading . . .

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GOSPEL   Mark: 12-16, 22-26
On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread,
when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples said to him,
"Where do you want us to go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?"
He sent two of his disciples and said to them,
"Go into the city and a man will meet you,
carrying a jar of water. Follow him. Wherever he enters, say to the master of the house,
'The Teacher says, "Where is my guest room
where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?"'
Then he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready.
Make the preparations for us there."
The disciples then went off, entered the city, and found it just as he had told them;
and they prepared the Passover. While they were eating,
he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, gave it to them, and said,
"Take it; this is my body."
Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it.
He said to them, "This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.
Amen, I say to you, I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine
until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God."
Then, after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
Top of Form

Bottom of Form
The Gospel of the LordPraise to you Lord Jesus Christ

Kieran’s summary . . . The Old Covenant required the people to keep the Law of Moses. Human relationships in general demand reciprocal adherence to certain expectations. In reality, we all fail to measure up to some degree in our relationships with God and others. Do these failures mean that unhappiness and dissatisfaction will permanently be out lot? No! Christ Jesus becomes one flesh with us and gives his body and blood in order that we, in him, can finally become faithful. It is only through union in Christ that we can be faithful to God. The sacrament of matrimony is indissoluble only because the grace of God is present therein. Only in Christ does it become indissoluble. In the same way, it is only through Jesus that we can truly be spouses, siblings, colleagues, parents – everything that we are called to be. We might be weak, but we cling as one body to the Lord Jesus who gave his body and blood for us. We are not called to be strong, but to ally ourselves with the One who is strong.

The Old Covenant involved the people of Israel abiding by certain norms
This Sunday we celebrate the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. The first reading deals with the Old Covenant whilst the Gospel describes the institution of the New Covenant in the blood of Jesus. Blood is mentioned in both texts. In the first reading the people commit themselves on two occasions to abide by the norms of the covenant. This old covenant followed the patterns of other covenants in the near east. Both parties agreed to uphold certain norms, and the agreement was solemnised by the aspersion of blood in a threatening manner. Blood represented life and this ritual signified that the very life of the people was at stake in this event. One side had the right to the life and the blood of the other if the covenant was not respected. In some covenants, it was the sovereign who had the right to the life of the vassal if he did not match up to the demands imposed upon him. There was a threat implicated by any transgression. In the case of Israel the norms were encoded in the ten commandments written upon the two tables of the law. In order for God and the people to maintain their covenant relationship, the people were obliged to keep the law and the Lord would in turn be their saving God. We might think that this relationship was of the archaic sort, but it is actually of a type that still characterizes “horizontal” relationships. Friendships usually involve reciprocal expectations of this sort.

Relationships involve reciprocal commitments, but all of us fail to measure up to some degree
What is the difficulty with this arrangement, indeed with all of our relationships? We are expected to be faithful to certain norms, but in reality no-one manages to measure up fully. We know the importance of authentic relationships, but we still fail. None of us manages to respond in an adequate way to the Lord, and the same goes for all of our other relationships. We are never the friend we ought to be, the husband or child that we ought to be. All of us are inadequate in this sense. Certainly, some people are more consistent and coherent than others, but all of us reveal our cracks and limitations sooner or later. Does this mean that unhappiness and dissatisfaction with ourselves is inevitable?

Our failures prepare us to allow Jesus to enter our lives. Through his sacrifice we are enabled to become, finally, faithful
No, unhappiness is not inevitable! The failures of our covenants is of great importance because it is then that we realize that we can do nothing by ourselves. Into this insufficiency of ours comes the Lord Jesus. The threat of life to him is radically concrete. He gives his life and sheds his own blood. And, in his blood, humanity is enabled, finally, to become faithful. Through the body of Christ we become, not by our own efforts but through grace, not by our own consistency but by pure gift, to enter finally into the covenant. In Christ, a faithful covenant between humanity and God is possible. Why does the sacrament of matrimony involve fidelity and indissolubility? Because the grace of God is present. Without his work we cannot presume that genuine fidelity is possible. Indissolubility cannot be imposed as if it were a human rule, but in Christ it becomes possible. The Father sent his Son so that he would take upon himself the flesh of humanity and make our “Yes” possible. He becomes incarnate in the womb of the Virgin Mary, whose “Yes” also came by grace, by virtue of the Immaculate Conception. Not only the Virgin Mary but all of humanity has been graced by the visit of the Son of God. Do we think that we can measure up to the demands of God by our own efforts, by gritting our teeth and bringing a spiritual hernia upon ourselves? No, it is the Lord Jesus who is our sanctification and redemption and purification.

Our task is to welcome the Lord into our lives. Only in him can we make an adequate response to God
In welcoming the Lord Jesus in the Eucharist, in becoming one body with him, he becomes in us the faithful ally of God; he is the one who adequately responds to the Covenant. When we eat his body and drink his blood, we become united to him. Our art is to lose ourselves in him, not pretend that we by ourselves can measure up to the Covenant with the Lord. The Holy Spirit within us enables us to live out this great reality. This Sunday we celebrate the Covenant with God in Christ. We can be spouses, siblings, colleagues, parents – everything that we are called to be – in the Lord Jesus. We might be weak, but we cling as one body to the Lord Jesus and life becomes beautiful. We are not called to be strong but to ally ourselves with the One who is strong.

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