Redwood Journal

Writings by Harry Martin, Permanent Deacon.


Body & Blood of Christ

Holy Thursday ~ Feast of the Lord’s Supper


John 17:

[20]”I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word,[21] that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.  [RSV]

This Holy Thursday we solemnly remember and celebrate Jesus giving us the most Blessed Sacrament, the Holy Eucharist, the gift of His Body and Blood.   Words, paintings, images cannot contain or fully express the infinite graces and mercies God provides for us all in this gift, to all who will believe in Him.

This Holy Thursday I am especially mindful of the thoughts of Jesus Himself that holy night before He went to the garden and His passion.  As He was gathered with His disciples He shared that Passover and instituted what we have come to celebrate as the Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist, Holy Communion.  The synoptic Gospels all give clear accounts of Jesus breaking the bread and sharing the cup.  But in John’s Gospel, written many years later, we are allowed to listen to the further words Jesus spoke, we are able to essentially listen to the heartbeat of God as shared by the disciple who leaned upon His breast.

Jesus gives the clear example of our being servants in the washing of the feet.  He then goes on to teach, clearly, our need to abide in Him, in the Living Word and to love God and each other as He loved us. Christ then provides the clear promise of the empowering and guiding graces of the Holy Spirit to enable us to be, to become, what He created, saved and calls us to be, His people, His Body.  (John 13 – 16).

This passionate dialogue is then concluded by our Lord’s prayer in the full text of the seventeenth chapter.  He prays for those who would live through the next harrowing hours.  He prays for us, those who would come to believe through their witness.  Then Jesus concludes this prayer, just prior to going to the Garden of Gethsemane, with the words beginning this post….[20]”I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word,[21] that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.  [RSV]

As I reflect upon this prayer and then as I see so many divisions and so many intent on building these divisions and strife I am so sorrowful.  The perils of clericalism, the perils of arguments over traditions and liturgies, the perils of judging all those sinning differently than the preferred norms.. all these divisions feel to me as mockings of Him who prayed, as lashes upon His back, as nails pounded into His Holy Body.

Jesus, forgive us, have mercy on us, we know not what we do.  We know not You as we should.

The Body & Blood of Christ ~ Unveiled

The Feast of the Body & Blood of Christ ~ 2 June 2013
This past Holy Thursday, we all watched as our new Pope, Francis went to celebrate the Feast of the Lord’s Supper at a prison in Rome.  If that was not enough to get our attention he then, in the very special part of that liturgy went on to wash the feet of twelve people in remembrance of our Lord washing the disciples feet.  The  problem, for some, was that besides not celebrating this holy and special Mass in the normal place he was washing the feet of prisoners, women even Moslems.  What on earth was Pope Francis thinking? 
The Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ is rooted in the Mass of the Lord’s Supper.  It is a time that we can renew our faith in the Real Presence of Christ, in the Blessed Sacrament.  It is a time when we can renew our faith that tells us when we receive Holy Communion  that the Sacred Host, the Sacred Cup share with us Christ’s true Body & Blood as He stated so clearly in the Gospel (John 6).  
Sadly, this most Real Presence and Blessed Sacrament is veiled for many.  Pope Francis was showing us it is time to remove the veil.
The need for holy veils is important.  We all, like Moses are not yet able to fully look upon the awesome beauty, grandeur and love of God’s Presence.  Our Lord , in His mercy veils us and yet reveals to us, as we allow, the promise of His Presence.  We need to grow in the mercy, redemption and holy love of God to be able to grow in our  ability to see and know God.
But we cannot allow these holy veils to be replaced by the veils of the world.  There is so much God wants to share with us.  Jesus seeks us to come to Him.  In our second reading we read:  “This is my Body, broken for YOU”.  But the veils of the world seek to hide Christ.
The veils of faith-less human reason, empty tradition and worldly distraction all blind us from knowing His Presence among us.  In the Gospel, at the feeding of the multitudes the disciples initially were blinded to Emmanuel, God with them, working in their midst.  As they struggled with the impossible needs of the crowd and their insufficient resources they could not see what God was doing.  But, they persevered in faith, obeyed in love and soon  had abundant reason to know God was working and with them.
So it is with us today.  It is often much more easy and comfortable to look at the elevated Sacred Host with only our human understanding.  Or perhaps we believe He is truly present but it is so much more comfortable to keep Him, if not veiled but at least safe in the Monstrance.
But as Pope Francis led us to see on Holy Thursday it is time for Jesus to be unveiled in our Mass, in Adoration and especially in our hearts and lives.  As the Pope washed the feet of those seen as so unworthy he was showing us what the author C.S. Lewis once wrote:  “Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to our senses”.
The sacred Body and Blood of Christ consecrated at Mass, the Sacred Host adored in prayerful adoration were never intended by God to be static, isolated places and times.  The longing of the spear-pierced Sacred Heart of Jesus is that we receive Him and become what He redeemed us to be living and holy tabernacles for His Presence.  It is through the Body and Blood of Christ, as we are healed through His sacred wounds we are freed to become those sons and daughters of God created in His sacred image.
It is through the Body and Blood of Christ, removed of worldly veils, that we both see, share and become the Body of Christ He redeemed us to be.

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