Today Holy Mother Church celebrates Corpus Christi Sunday, a feast commemorating her spouse’s gift of his own body and blood at the Last Supper. What does Corpus Christi mean in Latin? The Body of Christ. But today’s scriptures speak more of His blood than His body.
On Easter Sunday I splash you, the congregation, with holy water. Some people duck as the water flies through the air, and others shudder when the water hits them. But consider what Moses did at the Passover sacrifice: he splashed bulls’ blood on the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant….” Imagine what bulls’ blood would do to your nicely-coiffed hair or brand new Easter outfits.
Why did Moses do this? Because only blood would seal the covenant. The people would never forget that they had entered into a pact with God that day. They said: “All that the Lord has commanded us we will do.” Moses accordingly sacrificed several young bulls, draining the blood into large bowls. Half the blood he poured over the altar, and the other half he splashed over the people. There they stood, dripping with the blood of the covenant.
Mass is this sacrifice
The Mass is not just a nice Sunday service. It is that, but much more. The Mass is not just a friendly fellowship meal. It is that, but much more. The Mass is, in fact, a blood sacrifice. The Mass is the sacrifice of Christ, eternally offered and present to the world. In the Mass, we are brought back in time and space to Jerusalem, 33AD, to the foot of the Cross, as witnesses of the Redemption. We hear Christ’s words at every Mass, “This is my body, which will be given for you. This is my blood, the blood of the new and eternal covenant, which will be poured out for you…” The Mass is the Last Supper, andit is the bloody Passion of Christ, when he cries out “I Thirst.” He thirsts for our love; he thirsts to redeem us with his infinite love. We hear Jesus’ final word, “It is consummated,” meaning all is accomplished, all is perfected in his one perfect self-offering to the Father.
“May the mingling…”
But the Mass, a sheer gift of God, engages our response. We make our own gift in return for God’s gift, as stewards of the mysteries we receive. At the part of the Mass called the “Offering of the Gifts,” the priest receives water and wine from the people. He mixes a drop of water into the wine with these words: “By the mystery of this water and wine, may we come to share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity.” We are a drop of water, and God is an ocean of wine. We mingle our humanity with his divinity in the Mass, and so become the Body of Christ. In the Mass, we become divine, godlike, sharing Christ’s purity and perfection. The Mass transforms us into Himself, even while we retain our individual human natures. The Saints are all wondrously different, but united in their sharing of Christ’s divinity. We are those saints, or at least saints in the making, to the degree that we enter into these mysteries.
Reverence for the Mass
A few practical considerations, if the Mass is everything we have said it is. First, we must dress the part. Sunday Mass is not a picnic in the park or a barbecue on the beach. If we believe in the Mass, we will show that belief by the way we dress. Second, we must attend the Mass every time, on time. The Mass is an appointment with God, which we never miss and for which we are never late. It is not a movie or a concert from which we can leave early if we want. And third, the Mass never ends. It must be lived Monday through Saturday, in our businesses, throughout our marriages, at the voting booth, and in every relationship. The Mass is everything to us, and to the world. It is our only hope.