My Dear People,
Today we celebrate the feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. The Gospel talks about Jesus on the cross and not having any of his bones being broken, even though the two executed with Jesus had their legs broken. Why is this important? This goes back to Exodus when the Israelites were to have a lamb, unblemished, and slaughter it on the twilight, then sprinkle its blood on the doorpost, and then roast the lamb whole and eat it, whereby none of its bones were to be broken. Eating the roasted lamb and spreading its blood on the doorpost saved the Hebrews from the angel of death, which killed all the first-born males in Egypt that night. After that plague, the pharaoh let the people go. They were finally free from the slavery of Egypt, and the next day they left.
The lambs were sacrificed on Passover to recall that day in which their ancestors were freed from the bondage of Egypt and were able to worship God in the desert. They ate the roasted lamb, which is called the Seder meal (this is one aspect of how the Jewish people celebrate Passover today). Jesus became the lamb that was sacrificed, and none of his bones were broken. The lambs to be sacrificed after Jesus’ death were not needed anymore. Jesus died once for the remission of sins.
In the New Testament, there is no temple and no sacrifice of lambs, however on the Last Supper when the third cup of wine was to be drunk during the Seder meal, or Passover celebration, this cup of wine was to indicate the community of the Jewish people. It was then that Jesus took the bread and said, “This is my body, take and eat.” Jesus did the same with the cup of wine, saying, “This is my blood, the blood of the New and Eternal Covenant which will be poured out for you, take and drink.” Then he added, “Do this in memory of me”. So, when the apostles, after Jesus had risen from the dead, did the consecration of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, they did it in his memory. Then they remembered what Jesus said in the discourse on the Living bread in John chapter 6 vs 52 and 53: “If any man eats this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”
When the Jews quarreled and objected, Jesus doubled down and said ( v. 54-55), “Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink of his blood, you shall not have life in you. He that eats my flesh and drinks my blood has everlasting life: and I will raise him up on the last day.”
What does this tell us? That when we eat the body and drink the blood of Christ, we will have eternal life. As the Hebrews were freed from physical bondage by eating the lamb and putting its blood on the doorpost, they had the opportunity to enter the promised land. So, we, by eating the Eucharist (the living bread; the Lamb of God), have an opportunity to be freed from eternal damnation and enter the new promised land, that is Paradise. For this reason, before we receive Holy Communion, the priest says, “Behold the Lamb of God; behold He who takes away the sin of the world, Blessed are those called to his supper.” Jesus is the Lamb of God who died for us on the cross, whose bones were not broken as the sacrificial lamb of the Hebrews before they left Egypt. It is through him, by eating his flesh and drinking his blood through the Eucharist, that we will be freed from eternal damnation and enter into the new home in heaven. This should encourage us to spend more time before the Blessed Sacrament, and receive the Eucharist by being better prepared so that we can receive it with greater devotion.
Yours in Christ.
Fr. Vincent Clemente