Exodus 24: 3-8 Hebrews 9: 11-15 John 14: 12-16
Over recent years, in different contexts, I have read articles or commentaries which have suggested that there are risks in over-sanitizing environments, like houses, In trying to make such environments practically germ-free and sterile. The body can be hindered from building immunities that it needs.
What we heard in the first reading fro the Scriptures today about animal sacrifice and the ritual that was involved may have been repulsive to us. Certainly it did not seem sanitary. The whole notion of sacrificing animals and sprinkling blood might be distasteful. Perhaps we might like to sanitize it or simply ignore the whole practice entirely.
It is, however, an important and significant introduction to what we, as Church, recall today and deserves are attention. We remember, in a particular way, the gift to us by Jesus Christ of his Body and Blood. Jesus declare that bread and wine from the Passover meal celebrated with his disciple to be his Body and Blood. Then through his disciples doing this in memory of him, he invites us to share in and to be nourished by a true and intimate union with him, the God-man who came into our world.
In the ritual performed by Moses, the blood of the sacrificed animals was understood as the very source of life for those animals. Blood was the symbol of all life. In sprinkling first the altar that was representative of the Presence of God and then sprinkling the people, the profound sharing of life between God and the people was expressed. The covenant, the relationship between God and the people, was represented by the rich symbol of life that the blood was considered.
As Jesus shared the Passover meal with his disciples, he wanted them to realize that what he was doing, and what he was about to do in the sacrifice of his life on the cross was a sealing of the bond between God and humanity. It was a bond that we achieved by the sharing of the body that would be sacrificed and the blood that would be poured out. That bond would not only be sealed by the offering on the cross, it would also be sealed by the offering of the bread and wine that was now his very Body and Blood. It was to be an ever present continuation of the gift of Divine life offered to us.
The meaning of what we do as we come together for this ritual meal of the Eucharist is the accomplishment of this very same action of Jesus Christ for us It is the sealing of the bond, the covenant, the manner of living in union with God. In a way, it might seem to be somewhat sanitized in the manner in which we do this now. But we need to stop and remind ourselves that in these moments here, our loving God is reaching out to us, asking us to join in this meal, as a means of reflecting the intimate bond between God and ourselves. The focus is not to be on ourselves and our attitude in being here – almost as if we are doing God a favor. The focus is to be on the opportunity that is present: God acting toward us.
When the Israelites heard Moses spake to them during the ritual animal sacrifice that was described, their response was simple and straightforward. “All that the Lord has said, we will heed and do.” Let that be our response whenever we come together at the Eucharist, when we hear our God speak to us in the inspired words of the Scriptures and, especially, when we are nourished with the Real Presence of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Then we can truly go forth from here heeding and doing what the Lord has said and proclaiming in our lives our bond, our union, with our good and gracious God.