Aldo Potencio, O.S.A.
Church of Saint Nicholas of Tolentine
Bronx, New York
Ex 24: 3-8
Ps 116: 12-13, 15-16, 17-18
Heb 9: 11-15
Mk 14: 12-16, 22-26
The solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ brings our focus back to the source and summit of our Christian life, which is the Eucharist. It is the center of our faith because it is Christ himself being present in the Eucharist. Many times, however, we lose sight of this wonderful gift. Our life of faith becomes secondary to the many others things we consider to be more important, like our jobs, our ministry, or even leisure. Many of us even come to church thinking of the many things we still have to do, instead of focusing on the Mystery unfolding in our midst. We fix our minds to the future, while the Divine reveals itself into our present moment.
In the Old Testament, God revealed his presence and extended to the people the gift of the covenant. This covenant between God and the people of Israel was celebrated with the blood of sacrificed animals. Half of the blood of the animal sacrifice was poured over the altar, while the other half over the twelve stones representing the people. This rite signified an alliance between God and Israel. God then promised to bless and protect them, as they too must observe his commandments. Throughout the history of people of Israel, we see God’s commitment and love for his people. This love culminated in the new covenant.
The new covenant is created, not through the blood of goats, sheep or young bulls, but through the blood of Jesus himself. The sacrifice of the Lamb is seen in the body of Christ hanging on the cross and the blood flowing from his side. And this sacrifice continues to be given to us in our celebration of the Eucharist, for as Jesus himself said of the bread: “This is my body,” and of the wine: “This is my blood.” The Eucharist then leads us to a continuous experience of God’s presence, blessing and protection. But as in the old covenant, we must also keep our commitment and fidelity to Him.
Our new covenant in Christ is about life. It does not only solidify our relationship with God, but it also builds “blood-relations” among the believers, through the very blood of Jesus. We become brothers and sisters of one same family, which is the Church. Our participation in the Eucharist then deepens our union with God and our relationship with all other believers.
The Eucharist is a continuing reminder of the new covenant, and of Christ as our mediator. Jesus said, after all: “Do this in remembrance of me.” We could easily be distracted and dismiss God’s presence in our lives, but we are invited to be faithful. And fidelity to Him entails “remembering.” Thus, “Do this in remembrance of me” does not signify a simple recall of past events, but a constant experience of God in our present life and an endless invitation to be faithful to Him. He himself does not forget us and remains faithful to his covenant with us. Augustine said in the Confessions (talking about Nebridius after his death): “I cannot believe that he [Nebridius] is so inebriated as to forget me, since you, Lord, from whom he drinks, are mindful of us” (9.3.6). For Augustine, God never forgets his people. He is faithful and always present.
If God is always present in our lives, how are our lives different? How are we being faithful to God and to this new covenant?
We are faithful to the covenant when we follow the way shown to us by Christ. We take the cup of salvation and proclaim it to the world with our words and our deeds, as the psalmist puts it: “I will raise the cup of salvation, and call on the name of the Lord.” (Ps 116:13) God becomes present to the world because our lives proclaim him.
We express our fidelity to the Lord when we call on him with humility, trusting in the promise of eternal life. We call on the Lord and we give thanks for God’s love always present to us in the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.