On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, his disciples said to him, “Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?” So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks, Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.” So the disciples set out and went to the city, and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.
While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly I tell you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
For the ancient Israelites, blood was considered the source of the life force that flowed through all living things. In the first reading (Exodus 24: 3-8), we see Moses sealing the covenant between God and the Israelites by sprinkling the blood of the sacrifice upon the altar and upon the people. The blood symbolized the kind of shared life between the people and the Lord that would be manifest if the people continued to live according to God’s law.
In the Gospel, Jesus is giving his own blood—both in the Eucharist and then on the cross—as a covenant based upon God’s own life. To continue the metaphor in today’s world, we might say that God is “transfusing” his life into us, the Church.
How do our actions manifest the presence of God’s life within us? How can I let the graces of the Eucharist help me to do this?
Lo! the angel’s food is given
To the pilgrim who has striven;
see the children’s bread from heaven,
which on dogs may not be spent.
Truth the ancient types fulfilling,
Isaac bound, a victim willing,
Paschal lamb, its lifeblood spilling,
manna to the fathers sent.
Very bread, good shepherd, tend us,
Jesu, of your love befriend us,
You refresh us, you defend us,
Your eternal goodness send us
In the land of life to see.
You who all things can and know,
Who on earth such food bestow,
Grant us with your saints, though lowest,
Where the heav’nly feast you show,
Fellow heirs and guests to be. Amen. Alleluia.
—Lauda Sion Salvatorem, written by St. Thomas Aquinas for Mass on the Feast of Corpus Christi
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