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Ordinary of the Mass

Mass Text Latin - Sunday within the Octave
Mass Text English - Sunday within the Octaveh

English Mass Text - Corpus Christi
Latin Mass Text - Corpus Christi


Second Sunday after Pentecost—6 June AD 2021
Within the Octave of Corpus Christi
Ave Maria!


This morning's Gospel is a testimony to our Lord's understanding of human nature.  We've all had the experience of the man who was giving the supper.  You plan a celebration -- you really work at getting things nice -- all of your friends say they will attend -- but at the last minute the phone doesn't stop ringing with people making excuses.

When He speaks the man who gave the supper, Our Lord is, of course telling us about Himself, and the disappointment that He feels over the way people reject Him while still claiming to be His friends.

Most of you have probably heard me say that one of the distinguishing features of Christianity -- the thing that makes us different from most other religions -- is the claim that our God actually intervened in the history of His people.  Instead of just governing the universe from a comfortable point in Heaven, our Lord actually took human flesh and human nature to Himself and lived among us.  Not only did He pass a few years on Earth, but He literally offered His life for our salvation through the sacrifice of the Cross.

Now, if that claim makes Christianity unique, we also make one more claim that is even more unique:  That Jesus Christ who lived and died far away and long ago in the tiny little country we today call Israel -- that this very same Jesus is with us today -- that He did not limit His intervention into human history to just a few years and a few square miles.  We know, because He told us, that He was going to give us His Body and Blood, and that these would be our necessary spiritual food and drink.  And we know that He meant this promise quite literally because it is recorded in St. John's Gospel that some of His disciples could not believe what He promised:  "How can this man give us His flesh to eat and His blood to drink?" they asked, finding it a "hard saying" and "many of them no longer went about with Him.[i]   Yet, even though He lost some of His followers, we never hear Him saying that He wasn't speaking literally.  We never hear Him try to explain that He would just give us symbols of His Body and Blood.  He made no such explanations, because He meant it as plain and simple reality.  He had demonstrated His ability to feed these very same men miraculously, multiplying loaves of bread and feeding them among the five thousand.[ii]

Our Lord spoke of His intention to remain forever with His people by giving them His flesh and blood.  Not only did He speak of it, but He actually did it.  The multiplication of loaves took place around the time of the Passover, so it would have been almost exactly a year later that He made good on His promise.  At supper with His apostles, He gave them a new sacrifice and a new covenant -- one that would replace the sacrifice of the Passover lamb with the sacrifice of the Lamb of God -- a covenant that would replace the limited one that God made with a single people in the desert, that would bind God to all of the faithful peoples of the world for the rest of eternity.

So, on the night before He died, He took bread and wine into His holy and venerable hands, and gave them to His disciples, saying "Take and eat and drink of these, for this is My Body which will be broken for you ... this is My Blood which will be poured out for you and for many for the remission of sins."[iii]  And, once again, He didn't just simply say these things, but almost immediately thereafter, He gave Himself over to the soldiers who would literally break His body and pour out His blood.

So by virtue of this Most Holy Sacrament, our Lord is always with His people.  Not just in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago, but today, and for ever as long as the world lasts, the continual sacrifice goes on.  There is, of course, only one sacrifice, the sacrifice of the Cross, but every time we celebrate Holy Mass we assist our Lord by standing with Him at the foot of the Cross, making that sacrifice present right here in our own time and place.  It doesn't matter if we are in a grand and beautiful cathedral, or offering Mass in a field on the hood of a jeep or a bale of hay  --  for just the same, the sacrifice is renewed, and we are given His Body and Blood to eat and drink under the appearance of the sacred Host.  "Host" means "victim," by the way -- for the Mass is a sacrifice, one that we offer up together with our High Priest Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins.  Only coincidentally is it a banquet, just as some of the sacrifices of the old law could be shared by those who offered victims to God for their sins.

But the banquet metaphor is a good one.  Our Lord offers Himself our of love for us and with the hope that it will bring us together to "love one another" -- as St. John says today -- that "He laid down His life for us, and we likewise ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." [iv]

And certainly, it was this idea of the sacrificial banquet that our Lord was speaking about in the parable we heard today.[v]  Our Lord is the host (an interesting play on words in English).  He has made great efforts to celebrate this Mass with us.  God, who could have remained in Heaven, became incarnate and died the death of the Cross.  God, whom we should seek at any cost to us, pursues us, and waits for us patiently in the tabernacle or on the altar.

God forbid that we take the path of human laziness, and be like those in the parable.  "I've bought a farm ... married a wife ... have to see if the oxen work properly ... bought a new car, or a new computer -- so therefore I cannot come; please hold me excused.  God forbid we be that way when we have the opportunity to attend the Eucharistic banquet.  "None of those who were invited will taste of My Supper."   The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the Banquet of Life, be sure to be among those who don't turn down that invitation.




[iii]   Cf. Matthew xxvi: 26 ff, etc.

[v]   Gospel:  Luke xiv: 16-24.


Dei via est íntegra


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