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BODY

&

BLOOD

(B)

“FIRST IMPRESSIONS”
BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST (B)
JUNE 2, 2024

Exodus 24:3-8; Psalm 116; Hebrews
9: 11-15; Mark 14: 12-16, 22-26
By: Jude Siciliano, OP

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Dear Preachers:


Even as ten and eleven year old kids we recognized the significance of blood. Our family members would stress the importance of family loyalty by reminding us, “Blood is thicker than water.” I wondered why they felt a need to remind us of the obvious; of course blood is thicker than water. But as years went on I realized the point they were making: your family’s blood flowed in your veins and created bonds of loyalty and responsibility with others who also had that blood. You were a member of a family; you shared the same blood.

We kids picked up on the significance of blood ties because when we wanted to express our “undying friendship” for one another, we made a blood pact. In a solemn ceremony one of us would take out a pocket knife and each of us would put a cut in our thumbs. Then we would press our thumbs together, commingling our blood with our new and forever blood brothers. Now we had each others’ blood flowing in our veins, we would be brothers “forever and ever.” To tell you the truth, I don’t know where even one of my former “till-death” blood brothers is right now.

I hear echoes of what my family and we kids said about blood in today’s readings. In the Exodus reading Moses just gave the people the Law and now the people respond by accepting the covenant God wants to make with them. The ancient peoples had a way of making a formal and binding pact, or covenant, by sealing it in blood. God had initiated this covenant and the people were expressing their desire to live up to their part in it. Through the blood ritual God and the people were bound together in a communion of lives. The altar was sprinkled with blood to represent God’s involvement. The people were sprinkled to express their union with God and each other. Blood represented life and God is the giver of life; the people are the recipients. The animals sacrificed were an offering to God; the “peace offering” would be shared by the community.

You can see, can’t you, the ties between the former covenant and the one we have in Christ? His self-offering, the meal we share with one another, is our “peace offering.” It unites us with each other and our God. From ancient times our Eucharist has been called a “feast,” a meal that celebrates, like the Israelite peace offering to the Lord, the gift of life we have from God.

In today’s gospel, when Jesus offers his disciples the bread, he is offering them his very self. “This is my Body.” Jesus’ offering of the cup and his words, “This is my blood...”, recall what Moses said and did for the people. God has not broken the covenant God established with the people and now brings it to completion in Christ’s offering himself for our food.

I can’t prove, or explain, how Christ is present in the gift of bread and wine which is being offered to us today. But I can understand that this meal is an ultimate expression of his love for me and us. This comparison pales....but, I recall what we kids did to show our friendship, we joined our bloodied thumb with one another. We wanted to be blood brothers forever; we had mingled our blood. Well, we certainly were sincere and earnest, but like a lot of even our best human efforts, our “forever promises” ended and we went our own ways. At this Eucharist God shares Christ’s life with us and that union in blood will never end. He is always our “blood brother.” Blood is thicker than water. Blood – life – our lives are mingled with Christ’s and one another’s.

Because Jesus consistently gave himself, especially to the needy and least-favored in society, the politically-connected religious people had him put to death. His sacrifice wasn’t just his death on the cross – his whole life was a gift of himself to humanity. Jesus willingly gave his life for us so that we might have life and share it with others. We are not only receiving the Body and Blood of Christ today in the bread and wine, we are also committing ourselves to Jesus’ way of life.

But who among us can say we have lived up to what this meal signifies? How often have we fallen short of the life Jesus offers us in this meal? Jesus offers his life freely, while we shrink back from the many small and sometimes, large deaths discipleship requires. But the more we come to eat and drink, the more Christ continues to form us into his body and blood to be given for our world. We eat, we drink and in doing that, we express our willingness to give our lives so that Christ can, through us, share his life with others.

Today would it would be appropriate to commission and bless Eucharistic ministers. It would also be a day to bless those who serve meals to the poor, give shelter to the homeless and visit prisoners – for these activities also express our love for Christ in the Eucharist. Fr. Robert Waznak picked up this theme – of recognizing the many people who do a form of Eucharistic ministry – in a homily he titled, “Let’s Make Everyone a Eucharistic Minister.” Giving our lives in Christian service is a way of making Christ’s true presence tangible in our world.

We hear, in the words of the Eucharistic Prayer today, the reality of the sacrifice we are part of: God has made a self-offering to us by sending the Son. We in turn make our own self-offering to God. Our gifts are transformed; but not just the bread and wine. We who receive them are also changed as we are brought further and further in the divine life.

 

Click here for a link to this Sunday’s readings:
https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/060224.cfm

 

ONE GOOD BOOK FOR THE PREACHER

 

Ann M. Garrido, MUSTARD SEED PREACHING. (Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications, 2004) Paper, 78 pages, $11.95. ISBN 1-56854-555X.


If you haven’t heard of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, this book is a good introduction for you. Maria Cavalletti, a biblical scholar, designed this children’s catechetical method by drawing on the Montessori method of education. Garrido proposes a theology of preaching using what she has learned from children in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. She provides sample preachings to illustrate her principles and method. Preachers, catechists and those who lead scriptural reflection groups will benefit from this book.


JUSTICE BULLETIN BOARD

 

To you I will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving
Psalm 116:17


In today’s scriptures, we find rich biblical images of sacrificial blood. Blood suggests both life—vitality, health, vigor--and death--without blood, one dies. Have you ever stopped to contemplate how many people have died to bring Jesus’ teachings to the twenty-first century? How many have died to give you the life that you now enjoy? There is no one who can claim that they have made it on their own. So, the question becomes, what will be our sacrifice, our blood, for future generations? Oblate Father Ron Rolheiser writes:

“ God puts us on this earth not just for leisure and enjoyment, but also to serve others and to give our lives over in unselfish duty. Our private happiness and indeed our private sanctity, is not our highest goal. Once we accept this and begin to give our lives over in service, the duties innate within marriage, family, vocation, Church, society, and the needy will, at times, consume us in ways that can for long periods of time take away our freedom, our leisure, our rest, and even our time to pray as we ideally should. But that response to duty is also a healthy asceticism, albeit a conscriptive one, which can do for us the very things that private prayer and voluntary fasting can do, namely, push us beyond a self-centered life” (“The Asceticism of Pressure and Duty” NC Catholics March 2011)

To follow Jesus is more than to just observe the practices of a religion because Christianity is meant to be holistic, not just a segmented part of one’s life. The Gospels and Letters propose a new way to live as a community in the world. As a matter of fact, early Christianity was known as “The Way.” Many people view such a life as joyless but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Believing in something and sharing something greater than yourself is a joyous expression of the human person fully alive. What would it take to incorporate the teachings of Jesus into every aspect of your life?

Will you offer your life as a sacrifice of thanksgiving for all the blessings in your life and to bless future lives? There are so many needs in our world today that call for Christian love and commitment. To start, check out the Human Life, Dignity, and Justice Ministry pages at Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral | Human Life, Dignity & Justice (raleighcathedral.org)

 

Barbara Molinari Quinby, MPS, Director
Office of Human Life, Dignity, and Justice Ministries
Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral, Raleigh, NC

 

FAITH BOOK


Mini reflections on the Sunday scripture readings designed for persons on the run. “Faith Book” is also brief enough to be posted in the Sunday parish bulletins people take home.


From today’s Gospel reading:


“...Jesus took the 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.”

 

Reflection:


Receiving the Body and Blood of the Lord gives us a share in his life, death and resurrection so that we too can willingly give our lives in service and love for others the way he did. When we take the cup and drink from it today we are saying our “Yes” to Jesus’ way of life and we are receiving his life so that we can live the “Yes” we are professing.

 

So we ask ourselves:

  • Do we just see certain parts of our lives as dedicated to service in the Lord’s name?

  • Shall we ask the Spirit to help us offer all of our lives in service to the Lord?

POSTCARDS TO DEATH ROW INMATES

 

"The death penalty is one of the great moral issues facing our country, yet most people rarely think about it and very few of us take the time to delve deeply enough into this issue to be able to make an informed decision about it."
Sister Helen Prejean

Inmates on death row are the most forgotten people in the prison system. Each week I am posting in this space several inmates’ names and locations. I invite you to write a postcard to one or more of them to let them know that: we have not forgotten them; are praying for them and their families; or, whatever personal encouragement you might like to give them. If the inmate responds, you might consider becoming pen pals.


Please write to:

  • George Buckner #0054499 (On death row since 10/8/1993)

  • Leslie Warren #0487180 (10/6/1995)

  • Johnny Daughtry #0099090 (10/4/1993)

----Central Prison

P.O. 247

Phoenix, MD 21131


Please note: Central Prison is in Raleigh, NC., but for security purposes, mail to inmates is processed through a clearing house at the above address in Maryland.


For more information on the Catholic position on the death penalty go to the Catholic Mobilizing Network: http://catholicsmobilizing.org/resources/cacp/


On this page you can sign “The National Catholic Pledge to End the Death Penalty.” Also, check the interfaith page for People of Faith Against the Death Penalty: http://www.pfadp.org/

 

DONATIONS


 

“First Impressions” is a service to preachers and those wishing to prepare for Sunday worship. It is sponsored by the Dominican Friars.

 

If you would like “First Impressions” sent weekly to a friend, send a note to Fr. John Boll, OP at jboll@opsouth.org.


If you would like to support this ministry, please send tax deductible contributions to Fr. Jude Siciliano, O.P.:

St. Albert Priory

3150 Vince Hagan Drive

Irving, Texas 75062-4736


Make checks payable to: Dominican Friars.

Or, go to our webpage to make an online donation: https://www.PreacherExchange.com/donations.htm

 

RESOURCES

 

ORDERING OUR CDs:

 

We have compiled Four CDs for sale:

  • Individual CDs for each Liturgical Year, A, B or C.

  • One combined CD for “Liturgical Years A, B and C.

If you are a preacher, lead a Lectionary-based scripture group, or are a member of a liturgical team, these CDs will be helpful in your preparation process. Individual worshipers report they also use these reflections as they prepare for Sunday liturgy.

 

You can order the CDs by going to our webpage:


https://www.PreacherExchange.com and clicking on the “First Impressions” CD link on the left.

 

OTHER PUBLICATIONS BY EMAIL:


1. "HOMILÍAS DOMINICALES" ---These Spanish reflections on the Sunday and daily scriptures are written by Dominican sisters and friars. If you or a friend would like to receive these reflections drop a note to "Fr. John J. Boll, O.P." <preacherexchange@att.net>


2. "VOLUME 2" is an opportunity for you to hear from the readers of First Impressions. To subscribe or Send your own reflections: Send them to "Fr. John J. Boll, O.P." <preacherexchange@att.net >  Your contributions to Volume 2 are welcome.

OUR WEBSITE: https://www.preacherexchange.com


Where you will find Preachers Exchange, which includes "First Impressions," "Homilías Dominicales," and "Volume 2" as well as articles, book reviews, daily homilies and other material pertinent to preaching and Scripture reflection.

FOR EMAIL HELP OR TO UNSUBSCRIBE, SUBSCRIBE, OR CHANGE:


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