Tag Archives: Melchizedek

The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi), cycle C

1st Reading – Genesis 14: 18 – 20

Melchizedek is mentioned in only three places in scripture: this reading plus Psalm 110:4 and Hebrews 5:6, 10; 6:20-7:22.  He is said to be the king of Salem; its name means peace. This place becomes the city of Jerusalem, the center of Israel’s kingdom.

It was customary for a king to be hospitable toward a victorious leader, but there are no ulterior motives here.  Instead, there is a beautiful blessing ritual, to which Abram gives thanks.  Note that Abram did not take his victory greedily.  He only wanted to save his nephew Lot and retrieve the possessions that were taken from him.   For the victory and the blessing, he gives thanks to God.   How do you give thanks to god for the victories and blessings in your life?

Later Christian writers would evoke this episode in history and consider it a prefigurement of Christ.  Jesus would offer the blessing of his life – the effect would be irrevocable and would be the gift of God’s self to the entire world – redemption.  (Birmingham, W&W, p. 560-561).

In exchange for the blessing, Abram offers a tenth of everything.  In Eucharist, we offer ourselves to Christ just as Christ offered Christself.  We are doing as He said to do.  What does this mean for you?  What do you offer?

2nd Reading – 1 Corinthians 11: 23-26

This is the earliest written account (maybe 53-55 AD) of Jesus’ Last Supper    and the words that have become our Eucharistic prayer.

From Celebration, June 1998:

Eucharist is about a remembering (anamnesis) that does not simply call to mind the past events of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.  The Eucharist makes present here and now, within the gathered assembly of believers, the reality of Jesus’ saving death and resurrection. Each Eucharist is a “living remembrance of Jesus’ act of love.” By our participation (offering our ‘hungry selves’, hearkening to God’s Word, sharing peace, and then eating and drinking) in the Eucharist, believers proclaim and are integrated into that death and are given a taste of the resurrected life to come.

We “proclaim the death of the Lord” . . .  What does this mean?  In Eucharist Christ comes to us as the one in whom God participates in the emptiness and negativity of life, as the one in whom God accepts us in the most unrestricted way possible, and as the one who in virtue of this acceptance, lays claim to all that we are and can be. The Eucharist is not simply a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus or the fact that he now lives. Rather, it is a celebration of the fact that it is the crucified one who now lives; it is a celebration of the God who came into the brokenness, the ‘unwholeness’ and the unholiness’ of the human situation, and who came to stay. In Jesus, God has come to be with us where we are. To proclaim the death of the Lord is to find in his death a new definition of ourselves – a new understanding of the meaning of success and failure, of the meaning of life and death, of what it means to be a human person. (John Dwyer, The Sacraments, “Chapter Eight: the Eucharist” p.129-130)

The Gospel – Luke 9: 11-17

It is important to place this gospel story within the context of the overall gospel of Luke.  Chapter 9 had started with Jesus commissioning the Twelve and sending them out to proclaim the Kingdom of God.  After they go out Luke tells us of Herod’s curiosity about Jesus:  “I beheaded John. Who then is this about whom I hear such things?”  Then the Twelve return.  They withdraw in private to Bethsaida, but the crowds follow Jesus, and yet, he welcomed them . . . here then, is where the gospel story begins.  It ends with a superabundance of satisfying food.

From “Working with the Word,” http://liturgy.slu.edu:

Too often we narrowly view Eucharist in the context of the Last Supper and its elements of bread and wine. This gospel expands our perception to include the whole event of hungering, and then gathering, blessing, breaking, giving, eating, and being satisfied. Evil diminishes life and enslaves people; God’s kingdom restores life and liberates them from hunger – ‘malnutrition’ and oppression. This story illustrates Jesus’ Beatitudes: Blessed are the poor, the kingdom is yours . . . and the hungry will be satisfied.

It is at Eucharist that we experience most intimately the communion of saints.  Communion of saints in Greek is koinōnia hagiōn.  Koinōnia is any partnership, fellowship, activity, experience or relationship where people come together.  It is togetherness for mutual benefit and goodness (Barclay, The Apostles Creed p. 245).  Hagiōn literally means sacred things, hagiōi meaning members of the Church as saints, or sacred people (p. 247).  Imagine the sacred things as being that which we share in Eucharist, the body and blood of Jesus.  In that sense, we are sharing sacred things as a communion (koinōnia) of sacred people.  In the Byzantine liturgy, the priest says, “Holy things for holy people” at the distribution of Holy Communion (Shannon, Catholic Update  May 2005, p.4).  We become the body of Christ.

In the book With God in Russsia by Walter Ciszek  (an autobiography of a Jesuit priest), he recounts being in Poland in a concentration camp and celebrating Mass.  It was forbidden to do so, so it had to be done in secret.  Fasting before Eucharist from the midnight before was common practice then.  Since the inmates were only given 2 meals of gruel a day, giving up the morning meal was a true sacrifice.  If guards did not make it possible to celebrate at the scheduled time, they may go even longer without eating.  So this priest and those he celebrated Mass with truly held Eucharist in deep, deep faith  (Nolan, Hungry, and You Fed Me, p. 273-275).  Consider this as you receive Eucharist this week.

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B

The 1st Reading – Jeremiah 31: 7-9

This is a reading of compassion at a time of exile and hardship.

What do you think of when you hear the word, ‘remnant’? The thesaurus lists these ideas: remainder, relic, leftover, residue, trace, vestige, scrap, end . . .

Yet, in Hebrew scriptures this remnant was the few and the faithful who would survive because of their faith in the Lord. They are a ‘motley lot’ but they journey with a God who loves them and who cares for them like a father for his first-born.

This ‘remnant of the needy’ shows us a spirituality that has learned to depend on God for survival and salvation.  They were in need and disadvantaged: blind, lame – mothers and mothers-to-be – without husbands.  They needed God’s consolation and guidance – and each other’s support. This is a constant theme that echoes throughout the Hebrew Scriptures: “The Lord hears the cry of the poor” (Ps. 34:6; Sirach 21:15).It is meant to challenge all of us: if God is so concerned for the needy, how can God’s people be otherwise?  (Preaching Resources, October, 2003)

Ephraim was the second son of Joseph, but he received the blessing of the first born from Jacob instead of Manasseh.  Jacob crossed his hands so his right hand was blessing Ephraim instead.  Ephraim is one of the tribes of Israel (another name for Jacob), but he represents all of Israel in this reading. How does this prepare us for the gospel?

The 2nd Reading – Hebrews 5: 1-6

Who is Melchizedek? See Genesis 14: 17-20.   Melchizedek means ‘king of Salem [peace] and priest of the Most High’.  He embodied ‘mysteriousness’ since he seemed to have no history – no family or lineage.  Thus, he also stood for a priest with no limits of time and space; he offered bread and wine and blessed Abraham in the name of God Most High, creator of heaven and earth, who delivered him from his foes. He seemed to transcend history with an eternal connection to this God. The writer of Hebrews reminds us that Jesus comes ‘in the line of Melchizedek”.  (Birmingham, W& W, 696)

From Bishop Matthew Clark’s Forward in Hope:

Vatican Council II affirmed that pastors have the “duty to shepherd the faithful and recognize their ministries and charisms so that all, according to their proper roles, may cooperate in this common undertaking with one heart” (LG, 30).   For from Christ “the whole body, being close joined and knit together through every joint of the system, according to the functioning in due measure of each single part derives its increase to the building of itself in love” (Eph 4:16).  We are all called through our baptism to be priest, prophet and king.  Like Melchizedek offered bread and wine as an offering to God, so we offer ourselves and our own gifts in order to fulfill the whole body of Christ.

The Gospel — Mark 10: 46-52

In what ways can Jesus help you to see? 

This gospel is at the end of chapter 10; chapter 11 is Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem.  This whole ‘journey-section’ is sandwiched between stories of the cure of two blind men — the blind man from Bethsaida (Mark 8: 22) and this story of Bartimaeus (‘son of the unclean’ is perhaps the meaning of the Hebrew words). Between these two stories of blindness we find the three passion predictions, each one followed by graphically embarrassing stories of the disciples’ blindness as they fail to understand Jesus’ mission.  Take some time to look over this section of Mark’s gospel and pray with it this week. (Living Liturgy, 2003, 233)

*Notice the contrast between the disciples of last week along with the story of the rich man who ‘saw so well’ that he had kept the law perfectly.  Note also how Jesus asks the same question of both Bartimaeus and James and John: “What do you want me to do for you?” The answers are in sharp contrast showing us what true discipleship is – and what it is not . . . Jericho was the last stop for a pilgrim on the way to Jerusalem.

At the outskirts of this ‘suburb’ there would be a throng of beggars hoping to receive alms from those who are going up to the Temple.  Bartimaeus jumps up quickly and readily lets go of his ‘cloak’ when Jesus calls. (The cloak was the only means of support for a blind man: he would spread it on the ground and use it to catch the coins that were thrown his way. It was also his only cover against the cold, wind and rain.) Bartimaeus – without possessions or ambition – asks for sight. When he receives it, he follows Jesus on the way – which as we see in the very next section is the way to Jerusalem and to the cross.  (Birmingham, W&W, 698-700)

What is this faith that has saved Bartimaeus?  Observe how this ‘faith’ is acted out: Bartimaeus heard Jesus, cried out to him, persisted in his prayer, came to Jesus when called, spoke boldly of his need, and when he finally ‘sees,’ he follows Jesus with the crowd down the road to Jerusalem . . . Bartimaeus gives us a blueprint for being a true disciple. (Living Liturgy, B, 232)

Scripture Commentary for the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (June 2, 2013)

Image

 

1st Reading – Genesis 14: 18 – 20

Melchizedek is mentioned in only three places in scripture: this reading plus Psalm 110:4 and Hebrews 5:6, 10; 6:20-7:22.  He is said to be the king of Salem; its name means peace. This place becomes the city of Jerusalem, the center of Israel’s kingdom.

It was customary for a king to be hospitable toward a victorious leader, but there are no ulterior motives here.  Instead, there is a beautiful blessing ritual, to which Abram gives thanks.  Note that Abram did not take his victory greedily.  He only wanted to save his nephew Lot and retrieve the possessions that were taken from him.   For the victory and the blessing, he gives thanks to God.   How do you give thanks to god for the victories and blessings in your life?  

 Later Christian writers would evoke this episode in history and consider it a prefigurement of Christ.  Jesus would offer the blessing of his life – the effect would be irrevocable and would be the gift of God’s self to the entire world – redemption.  Jesus is the only true priest because of both his humanity and his divinity (Birmingham, W&W, p. 560-561).

 

2nd Reading – 1 Corinthians 11: 23-26

This is the earliest written account (maybe 53-55 AD) of Jesus’ Last Supper and the words that have become our Eucharistic prayer.

From Celebration, June 1998:

Eucharist is about a remembering (anamnesis) that does not simply call to mind the past events of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.  The Eucharist makes present here and now, within the gathered assembly of believers, the reality of Jesus’ saving death and resurrection. Each Eucharist is a “living remembrance of Jesus’ act of love.” By our participation (offering our ‘hungry selves’, hearkening to God’s Word, sharing peace, and then eating and drinking) in the Eucharist, believers proclaim and are integrated into that death and are given a taste of the resurrected life to come.

We “proclaim the death of the Lord” . . .  What does this mean?  In Eucharist Christ comes to us as the one in whom God participates in the emptiness and negativity of life, as the one in whom God accepts us in the most unrestricted way possible, and as the one who in virtue of this acceptance, lays claim to all that we are and can be. The Eucharist is not simply a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus or the fact that he now lives. Rather, it is a celebration of the fact that it is the crucified one who now lives; it is a celebration of the God who came into the brokenness, the ‘unwholeness’ and the unholiness’ of the human situation, and who came to stay. In Jesus, God has come to be with us where we are. To proclaim the death of the Lord is to find in his death a new definition of ourselves – a new understanding of the meaning of success and failure, of the meaning of life and death, of what it means to be a human person. (John Dwyer, The Sacraments, “Chapter Eight: the Eucharist” p.129-130)

 

The Gospel – Luke 9: 11-17

It is important to place this gospel story within the context of the overall gospel of Luke.  Chapter 9 had started with Jesus commissioning the Twelve and sending them out to proclaim the Kingdom of God.  After they go out Luke tells us of Herod’s curiosity about Jesus:  “I beheaded John. Who then is this about whom I hear such things?”  Then the Twelve return.  They withdraw in private to Bethsaida, but the crowds follow Jesus, and yet, he welcomed them . . . here then, is where the gospel story begins.  It ends with a superabundance of satisfying food.

From “Working with the Word,” http://liturgy.slu.edu:

Too often we narrowly view Eucharist in the context of the Last Supper and its elements of bread and wine. This gospel expands our perception to include the whole event of hungering, and then gathering, blessing, breaking, giving, eating, and being satisfied. Evil diminishes life and enslaves people; God’s kingdom restores life and liberates them from hunger – ‘malnutrition’ and oppression. This story illustrates Jesus’ Beatitudes: Blessed are the poor, the kingdom is yours . . . and the hungry will be satisfied.

It is at Eucharist that we experience most intimately the communion of saints.  Communion of saints in Greek is koinōnia hagiōn.  Koinōnia is any partnership, fellowship, activity, experience or relationship where people come together.  It is togetherness for mutual benefit and goodness (Barclay, The Apostles Creed p. 245).  Hagiōn literally means sacred things, hagiōi meaning members of the Church as saints, or sacred people (p. 247).  Imagine the sacred things as being that which we share in Eucharist, the body and blood of Jesus.  In that sense, we are sharing sacred things as a communion (koinōnia) of sacred people.  In the Byzantine liturgy, the priest says, “Holy things for holy people” at the distribution of Holy Communion (Shannon, Catholic Update  May 2005, p.4).  We become the body of Christ.

In the book With God in Russsia by Walter Ciszek  (an autobiography of a Jesuit priest), he recounts being in Poland in a concentration camp and celebrating Mass.  It was forbidden to do so, so it had to be done in secret.  Fasting before Eucharist from the midnight before was common practice then.  Since the inmates were only given 2 meals of gruel a day, giving up the morning meal was a true sacrifice.  If guards did not make it possible to celebrate at the scheduled time, they may go even longer without eating.  So this priest and those he celebrated Mass with truly held Eucharist in deep, deep faith  (Nolan, Hungry, and You Fed Me, p. 273-275).  Consider this as you receive Eucharist this week.

   

Let us pray: 

Christ, be vital food; bread for our souls.

You were broken because we are broken.

You bless us beyond all telling.

Your grace expands like loaves and fishes.

You lavish love on us each time you come to us

and make us one,

since you are our very food and drink.

Help us to pour this love out to one another.  Amen.