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The old and the new in the Eucharist

BY SR HILDEGARD RYAN OSB

Sunday, June 10th, 2012, is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi).

Lectio:  The Gospel Verse is taken from John 6:51-52.  I AM THE LIVING BREAD FROM HEAVEN, SAYS THE LORD.  WHOEVER EATS THIS BREAD WILL LIVE FOREVER.

The Bread of Life, Jesus Christ, is LIVING.

If we partake of this Bread, we will live forever, in this life and after we PASS-OVER into eternal life.  The final Passing Over is another stage of the first Pass-over, that exodus from the slavery of Egypt to the freedom of the Promised Land.  Our death will set us free forever.

Lectio: Read the Gospel text from Mark 14:12-16 and 22-26. Read it slowly and reflectively, and maybe a second time.  Try to read aloud rather than with the mind.  Listen to the text as you read.

Stand back from it and ponder. Read it a second time, and maybe a third time.

Meditatio:  Some background to help us understand the text and respond to it.

St John Chrysostom (347-407) gives both a scholarly and deeply spiritual commentary on this Gospel.  He reminds us that Christ instituted the Sacrament of the Eucharist at the time of the Passover in order to teach us that the whole of the Old Testament had been a foreshadowing of the New. 

Moses had said:  “This shall be for you an everlasting memorial.”  Now the Lord says:  “Do this in memory of me…”  What we call the “type” (the foreshadowing), was the first Passover.  It freed the people from the slavery of Egypt. 

Now we have, not the type or foreshadowing, but rather the reality, the Sacrament which liberates the world and brings blessings upon all humankind.  In the Old Covenant, blood was shed for the salvation of the first born.  It is to be shed now for the forgiveness of the sins of the whole world.  And John Chrysostom concludes with:  “…Jesus also says, ‘I have longed to eat this Passover.’  He means:  ‘ I have longed to hand over to you these new rites, and to give you the Passover which will turn you into people moved by the Spirit.’”

Read the Gospel text again.

I share my response in Evangelizatio No. 1

EVANGELIZATIO:  My lived response to the texts with which the Church exhorts me to pray.  St. James says “Be doers of the Word.”  And the Book of Deuteronomy tells us that the Word of God is in our hands to do it. 

Fr Karl Rahner reminds us that “the Sacrament of the Eucharist receives its full significance when it is received.”  Let us remember this.  He also asks the following question:  “How could we go on pilgrimage if we were not already aware of the powers of eternity within us?   One can only seek God, with God.”  The Sacrament of the Eucharist is eternity within us, God within us, seeking God.

Sr Hildegard Ryan OSB lives and prays at Jamberoo Abbey

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