Well over 3,000 years ago, God made a Covenant with Moses. God gave His Commandments to Moses. If the people followed God’s Commandments, they could live in peace and be a people pleasing to God. We read in the book of Exodus,
When Moses came to the people
and related all the words and ordinances of the LORD,
they all answered with one voice,
“We will do everything that the LORD has told us.”
God proposed his Law to the people. The people accepted and responded. This was a contract. A covenant. A contract is usually about property. A covenant is usually about an exchange of life. Your life for mine, mine for yours. “You will be my people, I will be your God.”
In contracts and covenants there is usually some sign or proof of fidelity to the covenant. In this case, God was promising life and protection. The people responded with the sign of life: Blood. In this case they used animal blood in place of their own blood. Moses splashed the blood first on the people, then on the altar of sacrifice. All this was done by the people to show their commitment to God’s Covenant and Commandments: “We will do everything the Lord has told us.”
And so it is with us today. We make promises to God when we are Baptized. We renew those promises when we are confirmed. We live the sacramental life of the Church as a sign of our commitment to God, and His to us.
Jesus’ death was a New Covenant, much like Moses performed with the people, except, instead of using substitute blood of animals, Jesus renewed the Covenant with his own blood. With his own Body and Blood he forgives us our sins, and gave birth to the Church and the Sacraments of the Church.
In the Holy Mass, we celebrate the Real Presence of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ in the elements of the Eucharist. Two months ago, on Holy Thursday, we recognized the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper prior to Holy Friday. On that day we also celebrated the institution of the Priesthood.
In the 13th Century, the feast of Corpus Christi was proposed by Saint Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church, to Pope Urban IV, in order to create a feast focused solely on the Holy Eucharist, emphasizing the joy of the Eucharist being the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. The Pope established the feast of Corpus Christi as a Solemnity and extended it to the whole Roman Catholic Church.
Jesus, himself affirmed the Feast of Corpus Christi to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque. Saint Margaret Mary said she learned the devotion directly from Jesus during a series of apparitions to her between 1673 and 1675. She said Jesus told her to put a feast to His Sacred Heart on the Friday within the Octave after the Feast of Corpus Christi.
This next week, on Friday, June 11 we will celebrate our parish feast day. Bishop Vasquez will be coming to Confirm many of our young people. We will also re-consecrate those who made their vows of consecration to the Guard of Honor to the Sacred Heart, and consecrate new members. Two years 240 parishioners consecrated themselves to the Guard of Honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Following the example of the Popes, we will have a Procession of Corpus Christi at 3 pm tomorrow, after the 1:30 pm Mass. The idea is to show the Body of Christ to the World, because He seeks the conversion of the entire world to Him.
The Eucharist is a Covenant, like a contract. We come to Mass to renew our promises to God, to follow His Commandments and keep our Covenant with Him. If you cannot keep God’s Commandments, you should not be receiving Holy Communion. You unite yourself to Him when you receive Holy Communion. You renew your Covenant with Him when you receive the Eucharist.
Many people look at Mass as something we do to receive something, when in fact it is a moment of commitment. As the Psalm says,
How shall I make a return to the LORD
for all the good he has done for me?
The cup of salvation I will take up,
and I will call upon the name of the LORD.
Attending Holy Mass is our obligation, whether we get any pleasure out if or not. When we hear, “I don’t get anything out of it”, we know there is a great misunderstanding. God has already blessed us.
We recall again the scene of Moses with the people in the Exodus, when Moses,
“Taking the book of the covenant, he read it aloud to the people,
who answered, “All that the LORD has said, we will heed and do.”
Then he took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, saying,
“This is the blood of the covenant
that the LORD has made with you
in accordance with all these words of his.”
At Mass we should renew our promises of obedience to God, as well. Each time we receive Holy Communion we renew our Covenant with Him. It’s not what we get. It’s the commitment we make to God, as well as His gift to us. That is a Holy Exchange. His life for ours. Our lives for Him.