Corpus Christi

First reading: Ex. 24:3–8

When Moses came to the people and 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 altar and 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.”

Second reading: Heb. 9:11–15

Brothers and sisters: 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.

Gospel: Mk. 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.

In other words

by Fr. Xene Sanchez, SVD (Kinshasa, Congo)

The blood compact—Sandugo (one blood)—was concluded in 1565 by Datu Sikatuna of Bohol and Miguel Lopez de Legaspi of Spain. Less known to many is the eyewitness account of Antonio Pigafetta concerning the arrival of Ferdinand Magellan in Cebu in April 1521. In his journal entitled Première voyage autour du monde (The First Voyage around the World), he wrote that the king of Cebu, Raja Humabon, sent this message to the captain of the expedition: “that if he really wanted to be his friend, he only had to draw a little blood from his right arm and send it to him, and that he will do the same on his part” (p. 92). Significantly the expression kadugo in Visayan means blood relatives. The exchange of blood is a guarantee of lasting brotherhood.

Blood is rich with symbolic significance. In the Scriptures, it is the principle of life. When Cain killed Abel “the voice of the blood” of his dead brother cried out to God (Gn 4:10). During the Exodus, when God saw the blood of the lamb on the doorposts he “passed over,” sparing the family from death (Ex 12:13). In Sinai, the twelve tribes of Israel became one nation and one people of God sealed by the blood of the covenant. To save humanity the blood of animals was not enough. Jesus offered himself entirely, his body and blood, to inaugurate the new and everlasting covenant. While the lambs were slaughtered for the Passover he took the cup saying: “This is the blood of the covenant, which will be shed for all.”

The Democratic Republic of Congo, eight times bigger than the Philippines, consists of more than 400 ethnic groups. Tribal wars are causing so much damage. Villagers are fleeing their own land, living in constant fear and extreme poverty. On a positive note, there are tribes in the equatorial forest who have a pact “never to see the blood of another.” To avoid a curse no one should hurt any of the members. Such a wonderful tradition has spared villages from killings. Evangelization is progressively transforming different tribes into one. Christians partaking in the Body and Blood of Christ are now bandeko (brothers/sisters).

The celebration of Corpus Christi is the path to world unity and the end of wars. Let us all strive to build the family of God. It is a challenge to promote universal consciousness that we are all brothers and sisters, children of ONE FATHER. If one suffers, we too suffer. For this we pray: “Lord, grant that, nourished by the Body and Blood of your Son,” may we—the whole world and all races and tongues—become ONE BODY, ONE SPIRIT IN CHRIST (Ep-III).

This entry was posted in The Word in Other Words and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.