The Most Sacred Body and Blood of ChristC
Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

The Most Sacred Body and Blood of ChristC

The Body and Blood of ChristC

Readings: Gen 14:18-20; 1 Cor 11:23-26; Lk 9:11b-17.

1/ First Reading: RSV Genesis 14:18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was priest of God Most High. 19 And he blessed him and said, "Blessed be Abram by God Most High, maker of heaven and earth; 20 and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!" And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

2/ Second Reading: RSV 1 Corinthians 11:23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, "This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." 25 In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.

3/ Gospel: RSV Luke 9:11 When the crowds learned it, they followed him; and he welcomed them and spoke to them of the kingdom of God, and cured those who had need of healing. 12 Now the day began to wear away; and the twelve came and said to him, "Send the crowd away, to go into the villages and country round about, to lodge and get provisions; for we are here in a lonely place." 13 But he said to them, "You give them something to eat." They said, "We have no more than five loaves and two fish -- unless we are to go and buy food for all these people." 14 For there were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, "Make them sit down in companies, about fifty each." 15 And they did so, and made them all sit down. 16 And taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. 17 And all ate and were satisfied. And they took up what was left over, twelve baskets of broken pieces. 


 

I. THEME: The sacrament of the Eucharist expresses God’s love for human beings.

            The sacraments of the Eucharist and the Holy Orders can’t be separated, and are two invaluable gifts which God prepares from the beginning, out of His love for human beings.

            Today readings want to emphasize on the origin and the purpose of these two sacraments. In the first reading, the author of the Book of Genesis mentioned a strange figure, Melchizedek, who brought bread and wine to welcome Abraham, who victoriously came home from the battle. No body knows who is Melchizedek until the author of the Book of Hebrews uses the technique called “midrash,” to connect with Psalm 110 and declared that Christ is this Melchizedek whom God prepared from the time of Abraham to be the High Priest to save people from sins by his sacrifice on Golgotha. Christ offered his sacrifice once and the effect of his sacrifice continues to happen on the daily Mass for all the faithful who participate in it. In the second reading, St. Paul hands on “the agape meal” which he received from Christ to the Corinthians. This passage is considered as the first report of the Mass which the early communities celebrated everytime they gather together to memorize Christ and to proclaim his passion, death and resurrection. The first Letter to the Corinthians was written before all the Gospels. In the Gospel, though Christ officially established the two sacraments, the Eucharist and the Holy Order, in the Last Supper; but the formula of the Eucharist, “He took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them” existed from the time Jesus did a miracle to feed five thousand people in the desert.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: The sacraments of the Eucharist and the Holy Order

            The author of the Letter to the Hebrews used the midrash technique to determine Melchizedek in the Book of Genesis is Christ. He is the everlasting High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek. He used two main passages:

1.1/ Genesis 14:18-20: According to this passage, Melchizedek has no parents; this means he has no origin in this world and is God’s high priest forever. The Hebrew name of Melchizedek means “the righteous king.” He is the king of Salem, “the city of peace.” Many scholars identified this city with the modern Jerusalem. He brought bread and wine to make a covenant meal with Abraham. He blessed Abraham and said: “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, the creator of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who delivered your foes into your hand." Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything” (Gen 14:19-20). Melchizedek must have a higher status than Abraham because he blessed Abraham and received “a tenth of everything” from him.

1.2/ Psalm 110:1-4: This Psalm was composed by King David and mentioned about the day of Christ’s enthronement as follows: “The Lord says to you, my lord: "Take your throne at my right-hand, while I make your enemies your footstool." The scepter of your sovereign might the Lord will extend from Zion. The Lord says: "Rule over your enemies! Yours is princely power from the day of your birth. In holy splendor before the daystar, like the dew I begot you." The Lord has sworn and will not waver: "Like Melchizedek you are a priest forever."”

            There are many similarities between the two passages which the author of the Letter to the Hebrew mentioned such as: First, Christ is the everlasting high priest in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron or Levi which was established at least 430 years after Abraham. Secondly, the order of Christ’s priesthood is made by God’s oath which is much higher than the order according to the Levi’s priesthood which is through generation. Thirdly, Christ’s sacrifice is much higher than the priest’ daily or the high priest’s yearly sacrifice because Christ offered his own blood, not the animals’ blood (Cf. Heb 7-8). In a word, Christ is the High Priest of the new which is more perfect than the old covenant. He comes to replace both the Levitical priesthood and the Old Testament’s system of offerings.

1.3/ Qumran 11Q13: This is the document which was discovered at cave 11 and talked about Melchizedek as follows:

            “He shall appear in the last Jubilee. Melchizedek shall return to people what belong to them. He shall announce the Jubilee for them, and shall liberate them from all of their debts and sins. At the beginning of the Jubilee, he shall announce to them this decree; then is the Day of Atonement (after the tenth period of the Jubilee). He shall redeem all sins for all “children of light” and those are destined for Melchizedek. Since this is the determined time, “the Melchizedek’s graceful year.” By power, he shall judge God’s holy people and establish a righteous kingdom, as is written about him in the Psalm: “God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment” (Psa 82:1). Scripture also talked about him, “Let the assembly of the peoples be gathered about thee; and over it take thy seat on high. The Lord judges the peoples; judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me” (Psa 7:7-8). Melchizedek shall execute the vengeance according to God’s decree. He also liberate all prisoners from Belial’s hand and all the devil’s power with him.”

            The prophet Isaiah also mentions “the year of the Lord’s favor” which Christ said it is about him: “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good tidings to the afflicted; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God” (Isa 61:1-2).

2/ Reading II: The Church’s tradition on the Eucharist

            The First Letter to the Corinthians is the earliest document (50-60 AC) that mentioned the Breaking of Bread or the Agapê Meal of the early Church; all the Gospels were written after this Letter (60-100 AC).

            Paul wrote these to them: “For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, "This is my body which is for you." In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me."” There are two things we need to analyze in this passage:

2.1/ Remembrance: “Do this in remembrance of me.”

            Remembrance, first of all, is to recall Jesus’ love for his disciples during his life on earth, especially the sacrificial love which he had for them in his Passion and Death on Golgotha and his glorious resurrection. Secondly, remembrance is also the time when Jesus’ disciples remember what Jesus teaches them to do: Imitating Christ, they must also die for others to express their love for God and others.

            St. Paul recalled these to rebuke the Corinthian faithful that they didn’t attend “the agape meal” as Jesus desires. They treated it as a party or a normal meal. The Corinthians damaged their charity when they divided themselves into rich and poor classes, didn’t wait for others or weren’t in unity when celebrating it. In brief, he rebuked them for conversing the Breaking of the Bread to a party, an opportunity for eating and drinking!       

           

2.2/ Proclaiming: “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.”

            Proclaiming, first of all, is to proclaim the salvation which Jesus achieved through his death. By his blood pouring out on the cross, God forgives all sins of humankind violated against Him. When people are free of sins, they are reconciled with God, and deservedly receive salvation which is the eternal life. Jesus’ sacrifice is still repeated everyday on the altar because people still sin and need to be forgiven, although his sacrifice needs to happen only once but has everlasting effect because it is the blood of God’s son.

3/ Gospel: Previous preparation for establishing the Eucharist

            The Feeding of the Five Thousand was reported by all four evangelists. For John, this event is followed by Jesus’ discourse about the sacrament of the Eucharist. John didn’t report the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper; but his chapter six contains all what Jesus wants to reveal about the Eucharist and people’s reactions.

3.1/ Jesus concerned about both material and spiritual needs of people.

            The Lukan report today can be considered as a Mass: Jesus gathers people from all places to teach and to heal; this is corresponding with the Liturgy of the Word. Next is the serving of food for people as the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

            We need to pay our attention to the three things in today report. Firstly, Jesus has compassion on people. He paid attention not only to instruct people, but also to find food for them to eat. Secondly, he commanded his disciples to look for food for people though they protested against it. Lastly, this is a miracle or a sign: from the five loaves of bread and the two fish, Jesus gave to his disciples and they distributed for people to have their fill and there still remained twelve baskets of broken pieces. This miracle must relate to the Eucharist because it represents Jesus’ body which is distributed to nourish many people. 

3.2/ The blessing formula of the Eucharist: Luke reported this formula as follows, “And taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd.” This is the formula of blessing of the Eucharist which Jesus’ disciples gradually become familiar with. They only need to see these actions, they recognize right away who is in front of them, as the two disciples on the Emmaus way or many disciples at the Galilee’s shore in John, chapter 21.

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - The sacrament of the Eucharist is the sacrament of love which God prepares and reveals for people from the time of Abraham. After we receive God’s love, we must also bring this love in our daily life to love others as God loves us.

            - The sacrament of the Eucharist unites all people in Jesus’ body. We shouldn’t cause any separation in our family or community.

            - The sacrament of the Eucharist is the sacrament of thanksgiving. We need to recognize all the blessings which God has done for us, especially the salvation which Christ acquired for us by his sacrifice on Golgotha.

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