Living Pentecost: the Body and Blood of Christ
Pentecost has a very important influence on today’s feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. In fact, if we could unravel the ball of string of our Sacred History we would be astounded at the many ‘Spirit’-led connections to Jesus’ offer of Himself to us in the food of His Body. The earliest is related to the mysterious priest Melchizedek, who offered Abraham a blessing of bread and wine. That event prefigured the Messiah who would establishment God’s kingdom. Abraham’s son Isaac continues that connection in prefiguring of Christ’s sacrifice.
Humanity is genetically designed to seek to appease the Divine for the mess we make of our world and lives. Passover sacrifices were at the heart of Jewish expression of that desire. In the year 70 A.D. Josephus, a Jewish historian recorded that 256,500 lambs were offered in sacrifice in the Temple. Lambs are the most vulnerable of all the animals. The High Priests who offered the Passover sacrifice could enter the Holy of Holies only once a year for a brief time due to their sinfulness. Jesus came among us as a Lamb, identifying with all the bloody sacrifices of those slaughtered lambs by replacing their sacrifice with His own. He was not only victim but also priest. Jesus became the sacrifice through offering Himself once and as priest entered God’s Holy of Holies on our behalf!
The Holy Spirit left us many clues about God’s plans for us. Without the Holy Spirit we would not be able to experience that one act of sacrifice Jesus offered to the Father. It is only through the action of the Holy Spirit that Jesus is made present to us in the form of bread and wine. Our faith in the Eucharist finds support in the prayer the priest says at Mass. “We entreat You (God); sanctify these gifts by the outpouring of your Spirit, that they may become the Body and Blood of your Son…” The Holy Spirit is the instrumental cause of the real presence of Christ among us. And the Holy Spirit has continued to renew the life of the Church through the theological mysteries revealed to the Church through saints who have become our teachers in helping us understand the fullness of what the Eucharist means for us.
They include: Paul the Apostle, St. Juliana, a Belgian mystic of the 12th Century, the then Pope who invited St. Thomas Aquinas to promote the Eucharist. The Church through the Holy Spirit continues to enrich us with other Eucharistic meanings: as a feast, memorial, sign of unity, bond of charity, paschal banquet and the pledge of eternal glory.