The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi), Year B, 2nd June 2024

‘Take it’, Jesus said, ‘this is my blood, which is to be poured out for many.’

The feast of Corpus Christi is a celebration of the new covenant of Christ with his people: the covenant of his blood, where he offered himself as a perfect sign of his love for us.

The First Reading is a description of the ritual that sealed God’s covenant with his people. In ancient times, blood was a symbol of life, and its sprinkling signifies the Israelites’ desire to participate in a relationship with God, to share his life and to become his people. Centuries later, the symbolism of this act was brought to an entirely different level by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

This relationship is taken up in the Psalm, where the covenanted people express their thanksgiving for all that God has done for them, and their readiness to fulfil their responsibilities to him.

The Gospel narrative of the Last Supper tells of the new covenant, so much more wonderful and powerful than the old. Jesus’s action at the Passover table is a ritual that anticipates his brutal, yet life-giving, death. Christ’s deep compassion for humankind inaugurates this new covenant, a new relationship of love between God and his people.

The Second Reading reminds us that the blood of the new covenant is from God’s own Son, so we can literally share in Christ’s life, becoming the ‘blood sisters and brothers’ of Jesus, and children of the one Father. This week, we might pray with the author of this letter for help to purify our inner selves from dead actions, so that we do our service to the living God.