The Body and Blood of Christ

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Gospel Lk 9 : 11-17

The second reading is 1Cor. 11:23-26

This feast of the Body and Blood of  Christ is a celebration of the sacrament of the Eucharist. The first image that comes to me is that of the Corpus Christi processions when as a child our family was brought along by our mother to walk in the procession with the parish. We walked through the streets where houses had mini altars displayed outside their doors or in the windows and the procession would end up on the lawn of the Dominican Convent Dun Laoghaire for the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. It was a lovely time to be together, to pray together. Luke’s passage on the feeding of the five thousand is good in teaching us on the Eucharist and in Jesus’ way of relating to people. Having made the crowd welcome, Jesus talked about the kingdom of God and cured those who were in need of healing. It was late in the afternoon and the crowd needed food. Jesus fed them by gathering all they had, blessing it and sharing the food with all present.

St Paul in the first letter to the Corinthians reminds them of this new covenant, Jesus, of how on the same night that he was betrayed he blessed and broke bread, thanked God and gave it to those present asking them to do this in memory of him. This he did on the same night that he was betrayed so that our union with God would be renewed.

This weekend in the Irish Times Kim Phuk tells her story. In 1972 she was the little girl at the forefront of the famous photograph taken in Vietnam. The photo is of a group of children running away from fear.  A South Vietnamese pilot dropped napalm on them, napalm is a thick jelly of petrol and aluminium salts which clings to human skin causing horrific burns. Kim Phuk had ripped off all her clothes and the photo captures her wailing, “Too hot! Too hot!”. Forty-four years later, living in Canada, she talks about her relationship with God, about how prayer has helped her heart to heal and forgive. She says that she is not into religion or politics but only the love of God.

This feast of the Body and Blood of Christ is again an invitation to enter into that relationship with God. Even on the night that Jesus was betrayed he ‘took some bread, and thanked God for it and broke it and he said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this as a memorial of me’. May our hearts be open to God’s love for us. Like the example Jesus gave may we not exclude others from this relationship. Jesus even allowed those who betrayed and who were about to betray him to sit and partake. Surely none of us have a right to exclude others from God’s love revealed to all in the celebration of the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

Sr Edel Murphy O.P

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