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  • Fr. John Jennings

Our Sacred Stories - Sacrifice with Hope: Body and Blood of Christ

It is truly amazing to see the sacrifices parents make for their children. They set aside their own wills for the sake of these children. Parents sacrifice their lives, their resources, their wishes, their dreams for their children. And it happens, not just for their children, but also for their grandchildren and down through the generations. There can be only one ultimate reason for such sacrifice… love.

Instances of this same sacrificial love appear in countries all around the world. We see it in places such as Myanmar and Belarus, in Columbia and Venezuela, in Russia and Hong Kong as people risk life and freedom for the sake of their shared rights and a voice in governance. They speak for the common good with a willingness to sacrifice for one another and the common good.

In the midst of the pandemic, we are all called upon to sacrifice for the common good as well. We need to observe restrictions, limit us on our normal gatherings and accept vaccinations. These are sacrifices for the common good. The measures protect us from the virus. But, more importantly we accept them for the sake of one another and the protection of all.

On many levels, sacrifice is a part of being human. It is an expression of mutual care, concern and love. It takes us into the realization that we are more than individuals. We are always part of a community, many communities, and we live not only for ourselves, but for one another. Thus, to make sacrifices for the common good is to be human. It is to bring promise and hope to all humanity. Whatever sacrifice we make, it has a goal – it expresses love for another.

The Feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus the Christ draws us to find meaning in the sacrifice Jesus made through the cross. Through this we recognize that it was not a one-time event, long ago. Like all sacrifice, it looks to the future and it does so, not with mourning, but with hope. The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is an expression of love for all humanity.

In the Old Testament Book of Exodus, we are given the story of Israel’s journey of liberation. In faith they discovered this was God’s work for them, God’s gift. They were to know they were a covenant people, a community, special to God. They were drawn together by the shared blood of sacrifice. The symbolic sacrifice was an expression of their gratitude for the love God had showered upon them (Exodus 24:3-8).

The meal that Jesus shared with his friends at Passover was a meal of gratitude for God’s love. The sacrifice it represented as the bread was broken and the wine was shared spoke of Jesus’s own sharing of not just his physical body and blood, but his whole embodied life. His life was not just for the gathered disciples, but for all humanity, brought together as the People of God in every place and every age. Mark’s Gospel describes this broad covenant with all humanity in the sharing of the cup. As he puts it: “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many” (See: Mark 14:12-16, 22-26).

Our Eucharistic celebration as a community of God`s People today and every Sunday is an expression of our gratitude to the God who loves us constantly. It is both a meal shared by a community of believing Christians and a sacrifice in which we renew our covenant relationship with God and with one another as God`s People. We are in so many ways, the new Israel, trekking as the People of God in our own deserts. Like them we have assurance of God`s continuing presence with us. May we bring love and hope to all humanity.

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