“My Blood of the Covenant”
(Corpus Christi: Exodus 24:3-8; Hebrews 9:11-15; Mark 14:12-16, 22-26)
Moses in our Exodus reading says, “This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you.” This is very similar to Jesus’ words in the Gospel, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.”
The first is the blood of animals sacrificed on behalf of the chosen people. The second is the blood of Christ, “my blood,” shed for many, i.e. for all who will enter into his covenant.
A covenant is between two or more parties. Each has reasonable expectations of the other, each pledges to be faithful to the agreements made. Notice that before Moses sprinkled the Hebrews with the blood of the covenant, they declared, “All that the Lord has said, we will heed and do.” Time and again they failed, but the Lord always took them back.
After the New Covenant, the same thing happened. At La Salette the Mother of Jesus complained: “In the summer, only a few elderly women go to Mass. The rest work on Sundays all summer long. In the winter, when they don't know what to do, they go to Mass just to make fun of religion.”
Considering the centrality of the Eucharist as “source and summit” of the Church’s life, this is damning criticism indeed. For years, in many Christian communities, Church attendance has been in decline. Surveys claim that a shocking percentage of Catholics do not believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. (This may be because they can’t explain it.)
This is what happens when we forget that the Covenant in Christ’s blood is, first and foremost, a relationship. Today’s Psalm puts it in these terms: “How shall I make a return to the Lord for all the good he has done for me? The cup of salvation I will take up, and I will call upon the name of the Lord.”
If only we could be perpetually aware of God’s goodness to us! We would then be less inclined to take it for granted, or even to neglect the gift of the Eucharist, the “efficacious sign” (i.e. sacrament) of Christ’s pouring out his precious blood for us.
At Mass we echo the Psalmist’s words: “My vows to the Lord I will pay in the presence of all his people.” This, too, is part of making Mary’s message known.
Wayne Vanasse, and Fr. René Butler, M.S.