Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, Year B, Catechist

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Catechist Background and Preparation
To prepare for this session, read all the readings.

Exodus 24:3-8
Psalm 116
Hebrews 9:11-15
Mark 14:12-16, 22-26

Spend a few minutes reflecting on what these readings mean for you today. Is there a particular reading that appeals to you? Is there a word or image that engages you?

Read the following Word in Liturgy and Catholic Doctrine sections. Read the Word in Liturgy and Catholic Doctrine sections. These give you background on what you will be doing this session. Read over the session outline and make it your own. Check to see what materials you will need.

The Word In Liturgy
Each of today's readings illuminates some aspect of the day's feast. In Year B, the accent is on the theme of covenant, a theme that has likewise been celebrated well in the Lenten readings for this year. The first reading describes the Hebrew covenant ritual that accompanied the fashioning of the Mosaic covenant with all the people. The importance of blood in sealing this covenant ritual shows that the covenant is more than mere words. It is a matter of life, for blood was a symbol of life. The summary words of Moses will later find echoes in New Testament passages concerning covenant, such as Matthew 26:28, Mark 14:24, and Luke 22:20.

In today's gospel, Jesus' foreknowledge of the details of setting up the meal give the narrative a serenity that underscores his divine willingness to enter into his passion. Mark, like the other synoptic writers, presents the Last Supper as the Passover, and thus links it with the grandeur of the deliverance experienced in the Exodus. Because of the clear parallel between the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, and the lamb sacrificed for the Passover, Mark's choice of this feast as backdrop also emphasizes the eucharistic meal as one that pivots on the idea of sacrifice.

Catholic Doctrine
The Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist
On this feast when the Church contemplates the eucharistic banquet of the Lord, we proclaim our belief that "when we eat this bread and drink this cup we proclaim your death, Lord Jesus, until you come in glory" (Roman Missal, Memorial Acclamation, Eucharistic Prayer). As followers of Jesus, we carry out his command to "do this in remembrance of me" (1 Corinthians 1:24-25).

The emphatic proclamation of this awesome mystery is only possible because from the earliest times the Church has experienced in this sacred meal the real presence of Jesus Christ. This means that when we eat this bread and drink this cup, although we taste the fruits of the earth and our human hands (bread and wine), we experience in faith the body and blood of our Lord and Savior who sacrificed himself on our behalf.

We believe that when the Church gathers, Mass is celebrated with the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist, and within the Eucharist, bread and wine are presented and prayed over, the Spirit of God descends and makes those elements into the body and blood of Jesus Christ. The Church has insisted from the earliest times that this is the "real presence" of Christ, that is, real in the fullest sense a substantial presence by which Christ, both God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present (CCC 1374). Why? Most especially because Jesus himself promised this and secondarily because the apostles and those who have followed in this Church have experienced it to be so.

A substantial change takes place within the elements of bread and wine. Indeed, the term in our tradition for the change, which takes place, is "transubstantiation."

Posted in: Sessions B