Gospel Lectio Divina for The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, June 6, 2021
By David Kilby
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.
A simple statement from Jesus, a basic order, can have profound depth. It may be possible to “read into” Scripture too much, but it seems as if Jesus is directing his disciples to follow someone other than him. Granted, it’s only in running a simple errand, but underneath there is a prudent message. We may often wonder what God wants from us in life. We may ask for simple and direct answers to our prayers, while hoping he shows us exactly what he wants us to do next. But how often does God put someone directly in our lives while telling us, “Follow him”, or “Follow her.”? Sometimes? Often? Not too often? Whatever the case, it definitely happens, and we may not notice or give him credit for doing that. Sometimes God sends us messengers, role models, people to follow who are already following him closely who we can trust, and from whom we can learn the ways of God. Sometimes he puts them right in our lives, and sometimes he introduces us to a saint to whom we can relate. Let’s not pass up these opportunities to get to know and follow these Godsends. They may lead us straight to Jesus.
They found it just as they had told him
This whole passage reads as if Jesus were a director directing a scene for a movie. It sounds like the whole thing was planned or staged. In a way, it was. Not that all of the characters were simply told what to do. But Jesus, being God, had the whole thing planned out from the beginning of time. God is the author of history and we are his characters. He is writing the story as we speak. As any author knows, sometimes the characters take on a life of their own as the story is written, but it is still the author writing the story. With life and all of human history, the world is God’s page. Or, if you prefer Shakespeare, it’s his stage. So it makes sense that Jesus would describe this particular scene in detail ahead of time for his disciples. They are the main characters in a very important scene. If human history is God’s story, then Jesus’ life is the climax, and the week leading up to his death and resurrection is the climax within the climax. By revealing to his disciples how it’s all going to happen, he is in a way showing them that he has it all under control despite how crazy things are about to get.
he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, gave it to them
Jesus could have stayed with us in human form until the end of history, but he chose to leave us with his body and blood and the Holy Spirit. One could criticize this decision and say it would have been much easier for us to believe in Jesus if we could just go visit him and see him work his miracles. But who’s to say it would have been easier? People probably would have come up with all sorts of excuses for why he isn’t God, just like they do now despite all the proof: the eucharistic miracles, the saints and all their miracles, the martyrs, and the survival of the Church he gave us despite all it’s been through. Christ didn’t just choose to leave earth so we could witness God’s power through the Eucharist and Holy Spirit, though. These gifts are central to his gospel message that unless a seed falls to the ground and dies it will not bring forth new life. If Jesus stayed on earth, he wouldn’t have been giving himself as a sacrifice for humanity. And that is what this passage is about. It’s about Christ giving his body to his Church.
"Take it; this is my body."
Jesus gives his body to his body, the Church. Continuing with the theme of history, the apostles are a microcosm of Church history. Shortly after the Last Supper, Jesus was arrested and most of the disciples fled. One of them betrayed him. Similarly, there have been periods in Church history when the leaders of the Church have abandoned Christ and his teachings out of fear of political powers and leaders from other religions. But even in those dark times when almost all of them abandoned Jesus, there were still those who remained faithful. At the Cross, Jesus had John the Beloved, his mother, and Mary Magdelene. Similarly, in times of scandal in the Church, when the Church is put through fire and the body of Christ is suffering greatly, there are always those who stay true, even when it seems like everyone has gone astray.
“This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.”
Blood runs thicker than water, they say. Have you ever thought of the connection that expression has to baptism and Communion? St. John the Baptist said ‘I baptize you with water ... but the one who comes after me will baptize you with the Holy Spirit’. (Matthew 3:11). The Holy Spirit is the Giver of Life, and Christ gives us life by shedding his blood for us. Christ is making a new covenant with us, not just with water to wash away original sin but with blood to wash away all our sins. Once we are cleansed by Jesus’ blood we can enter into the kingdom of God.
I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.
This is a very cryptic statement. What does Christ mean by it? One thing is clear. He is talking about a new beginning. He is giving the disciples and all who believe in him words of hope, something to look forward to, something to live for. But what that something is exactly is still hidden from us. He is making a promise. Will we trust him to keep it?
Dear Lord Jesus. Thank you for your sacrifice, the greatest of all sacrifices. Show us the way to your everlasting kingdom so we may drink again from the fruit of the vine in heaven. Forgive us for the times we have refused you, since you only want to love us perfectly always. We are your servants. Tell us what we need to do, and we will follow you. The Blessed Sacrament is our food for the journey on earth and to heaven. Thank you for so sweet a gift. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Jesus comes to us in the Eucharist in complete silence. He expects us to do the same when we come to him. We’ve contemplated his Word. We’ve given him thanks and asked for forgiveness. Now listen to what he has to say today.
David Kilby is a freelance writer from New Jersey and managing editor of Catholic World Report.
Click Here to Buy
Click Here to Buy