A quick reflection on Corpus Christi

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi)

EXODUS 24:3 - 8

When Moses came to the peopleand related all the words and ordinances of the LORD, they all answered with one voice, "We will do everything that the LORD has told us." Moses then wrote down all the words of the LORD and, rising early the next day, he erected at the foot of the mountain an altarand twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel. Then, having sent certain young men of the Israelites to offer holocausts and sacrifice young bulls as peace offerings to the LORD, Moses took half of the blood and put it in large bowls; the other half he splashed on the altar. Taking the book of the covenant, he read it aloud to the people, who answered, "All that the LORD has said, we will heed and do." Then he took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, saying, "This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words of his."

HEBREWS 9:11 - 15

When Christ came as high priest of the good things that have come to be, passing through the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made by hands, that is, not belonging to this creation, he entered once for all into the sanctuary, not with the blood of goats and calves but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the sprinkling of a heifer's ashes can sanctify those who are defiled so that their flesh is cleansed, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to worship the living God. For this reason he is mediator of a new covenant: since a death has taken place for deliverance from transgressions under the first covenant, those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance.

MARK 14:12-16, 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.

Don’t know about you, but to me the scenes that appear before my eyes as today’s readings are solemnly proclaimed in the liturgy of the Word are more vivid, colorful, and pregnant with meanings than the films showcased by the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF):

Scene 1:
Moses sprinkling the blood of young bulls on the people of Israel at the foot of Mt. Sinai – a ritual performed as the consummation of “the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with [Israel]” (Ex 24:8). According to the Hebrew tradition, life was in the blood; the sprinkling of blood on the people was symbolic of the atonement for their lives (cf. Lev 17:11).

Scene 2:
Moses’ historic ritual inaugurated the full-blown structure of the Day of Atonement ritual (see Lev 16), whereby the high priest emerged from the Holy of Holies once a year to sprinkle the worshipers with the blood of goats and calves (see 2nd reading). While all this was going on in the history of Israel year after year, Psalm 40 could be heard in the background chanting, “Sacrifices and offerings You have not desired, but a body have You prepared for me” (Heb 10:5, cf. Ps 40:6), reminding everyone that the whole universe was groaning, yearning for the true “Body” – the Body of Christ – that would give the world the ultimate and efficacious atonement of sin.

Scene 3:

In the gospel reading, we hear: “[Jesus] 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’” (Mk 14:22-24). There we have it: Jesus’ self-gift, the body and blood anticipated and yearned for by the whole human race from time immemorial; the New Moses acting as the Mediator between God and man to bring to final consummation the New Covenant, using not the blood of animal but his own blood; the ultimate High Priest whose heavenly liturgy is celebrated not in the man-made temple of Jerusalem but in the Temple of the Heavenly Jerusalem!

As sensational as the films of TIFF are, the “film” of Corpus Christi, starring Moses, the people of Israel, the Levitcal high priests, Jesus and the apostles, is far and away the most stunning movie that has ever been produced. Crystalized in the Eucharist, the “film” has been, and will continue to be, re-presented until Jesus, the Best Actor and the Best Director, returns to earth in his glory.

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Edmond Lo

As a Catholic speaker, writer and RCIA Catechist, Edmond is very active in promoting and defending the Catholic faith. He has a MBA, a CPA-CMA, and a MTS (Master of Theological Studies) from U.T., St. Augustine's Seminary. Having worked many years as the CFO of a non-profit organization, he retired at 55 to follow his special vocation of evangelization. The activities he conducts include the CMCC Bible Study Program, the Catechism Revisited Program, the FLL Spiritual Formation Program, Living in the Holy Tradition, RCIA, family groups and retreats, etc. Edmond is a member of the FLL Core Team. He writes Sunday Mass reflections regularly for the weekly FLL NewSpiration. His personal blog: http://elodocuments.blogspot.com/