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Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ
Memorial of Saint Charles Lwanga who with twelve companions suffered martyrdom in Uganda (+1886)


First Reading

Exodus 24,3-8

Moses went and told the people all Yahweh's words and all the laws, and all the people answered with one voice, 'All the words Yahweh has spoken we will carry out!' Moses put all Yahweh's words into writing, and early next morning he built an altar at the foot of the mountain, with twelve standing-stones for the twelve tribes of Israel. Then he sent certain young Israelites to offer burnt offerings and sacrifice bullocks to Yahweh as communion sacrifices. Moses then took half the blood and put it into basins, and the other half he sprinkled on the altar. Then, taking the Book of the Covenant, he read it to the listening people, who then said, 'We shall do everything that Yahweh has said; we shall obey.' Moses then took the blood and sprinkled it over the people, saying, 'This is the blood of the covenant which Yahweh has made with you, entailing all these stipulations.'

Psalmody

Psalm 115

Antiphon

Trust in the Lord all ye who are afraid.

I trusted, even when I said :
'I am sorely afflicted,'

and when I said in my alarm :
'No man can be trusted'.

Now can I repay the Lord
for his goodness to me?

'The cup of salvation I will raise;
I will call on the Lord's name.

My vows to the Lord I will fulfil
before all his people.

O precious in the eyes of the Lord
is the death of his faithful.

Your servant, Lord, your servant am I;
you have loosened my bonds

A thanksgiving sacrifice I make :
I will call on the lord's name.

My vows to the Lord I will fulfil
before all his people,

in the courts of the house of the Lord,
in the midst, O Jerusalem.

Second Reading

Hebrews 9,11-15

But now Christ has come, as the high priest of all the blessings which were to come. He has passed through the greater, the more perfect tent, not made by human hands, that is, not of this created order; and he has entered the sanctuary once and for all, taking with him not the blood of goats and bull calves, but his own blood, having won an eternal redemption. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkled on those who have incurred defilement, may restore their bodily purity. How much more will the blood of Christ, who offered himself, blameless as he was, to God through the eternal Spirit, purify our conscience from dead actions so that we can worship the living God. This makes him the mediator of a new covenant, so that, now that a death has occurred to redeem the sins committed under an earlier covenant, those who have been called to an eternal inheritance may receive the promise.

Reading of the Gospel

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Yesterday I was buried with Christ,
today I rise with you who are risen.
With you I was crucified;
remember me, Lord, in your kingdom.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Mark 14,12-16.22-26

On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb was sacrificed, his disciples said to him, 'Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?' So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, 'Go into the city and you will meet a man carrying a pitcher of water. Follow him, and say to the owner of the house which he enters, "The Master says: Where is the room for me to eat the Passover with my disciples?" He will show you a large upper room furnished with couches, all prepared. Make the preparations for us there.' The disciples set out and went to the city and found everything as he had told them, and prepared the Passover. And as they were eating he took bread, and when he had said the blessing he broke it and gave it to them. 'Take it,' he said, 'this is my body.' Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he handed it to them, and all drank from it, and he said to them, 'This is my blood, the blood of the covenant, poured out for many. In truth I tell you, I shall never drink wine any more until the day I drink the new wine in the kingdom of God.' After the psalms had been sung they left for the Mount of Olives.

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Yesterday I was buried with Christ,
today I rise with you who are risen.
With you I was crucified;
remember me, Lord, in your kingdom.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Homily

"Behold the bread of angels, the bread of pilgrims. Lead your brothers to the heavenly banquet in the joy of the saints." This is how we pray in the liturgy of Corpus Christi, the feast day on which we celebrate Jesus' presence in the Eucharist. God is not an abstract idea; a vague and timeless philosophy, elusive and distant. Jesus is never a ghost; he is a body, a solid, physical body that is present today as the pilgrim who walks by our side and remains with us when evening comes. The body is present in the Eucharist and this is why the Church contemplates the Consecrated Host. In the Host is the transfigured body of Jesus, crucified and risen, a body that accompanies us in the different seasons of our life ever since, with emotion, we received it for the first time. Every time we nourish ourselves with it we should feel as we did the first time, always amazed at such a great love that comes to dwell in us. This bread never becomes a right: we cannot buy it; it does not have a price, as for people who calculate and think that nothing is done for nothing; for us who make of everything a convenience, an advantage, even life itself. The body that teaches to us to love freely is the Body of God's love. Love is always a gift. Life is only a gift. The Corpus Domini is the body from heaven and earth. The altar of the Eucharist makes the table of Passover present, the night when Jesus took the bread, broke it, then gave it to his disciples and said, "This is my body." Then he took the cup and said, "This is my blood." This consecrated body refers us to another body of Christ, that of the poor, the weak, and the sick. The flesh of Christ is also in them. John Chrysostom, father of the church, bishop of Constantinople, loved to say: "If you want to honour the body of Christ, do not disdain it when it is naked. Do not honour the Eucharistic Christ with silken vestments while outside of the church you neglect this other Christ who is afflicted by the cold and naked." "Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me," Jesus said. We cannot honour the Corpus Domini on the altar and then show disdain for the same Corpus Domini in our poor brothers and sisters. The Gospel helps us to love concrete human flesh, the body. That body marked by life is Christ's body: the body of an elderly who can no longer get up, who does not even ask anything, who is embarrassed, who waits for someone to talk to, who has no one who supports him. The body of Christ is the body of the poor immigrants: of women full of dreams and fears; of lost children; of men, who desperately seek a better future and are forced to entrust themselves to traffickers who treat them like things; bodies of men and women whose stories, faces and names we did not want to know, as they drowned in the sea forever. God knows the names of these poor bodies. He knows the name of each one of them. He gives them warmth, welcomes them, protects, understands and listens to them; he caresses them, taking time to be with them. Their body is His body. As Pope Francis urges, blessed are those who love the body of Christ in the suffering body of the poor. Let us love Jesus' body in his Eucharist. Let us love the Lord's body in the bodies of the poor and of our brothers and sisters. The weakness of others is that of God. Let us go to visit those who are alone; let us honour the Corpus Domini by stopping in front of those who ask and by making them beautiful with love. Venerating His body, broken and poured out on the altar, will make us love the weakness of Christ's body in the smallest of His brothers and sisters.