Dear Parishioners & Visitors,
Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. He said to them, "This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many."
Today we are celebrating the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of the Lord. All the readings of the Mass present to us a fairly unknown concept: that of the covenant. The Oxford Dictionary defines covenant as a formal agreement, contract, or promise. The theological meaning of covenant is an agreement which brings about a relationship of commitment between God and his people.
If we take into account this definition, today's readings offer us newer insights into the meanings of the Eucharist and their implications toward our daily life and our relationships with God and with one another. In the reading from the Book of Exodus, we find Moses sprinkling the people with the blood of sacrificed animals and saying: "This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words of his." The covenant between God and the people of Israel is sealed by the blood sprinkled on them; by this covenant they become God's people.
The second reading, taken from the Letter to the Hebrews, reveals to us the difference between the blood of the old covenant and the blood of the new covenant. For if the blood of goats and the sprinkling of a heifer's ashes can sanctify those who are defiled so that their flesh is cleansed, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to worship the living God. The blood of Jesus on the cross becomes not only a sign of the second covenant but also an instrument of salvation. It brings us into a new level of relationship with God.
But it is at the Last Supper that Jesus reveals the identification of the wine in the cup with the blood of the new covenant. Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. He said to them, "This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many. Jesus sees his blood shed at the cross as the symbol of the new relationship between God and humankind because of his saving death. The partaking of the blood set a new level of relationship between God and us. The old covenant made people of God out of the people of Israel. The new covenant, sealed by the blood of Jesus-the slain Lamb of God, opens a new level of relationship with God. It does not only make out of us God's beloved children, but we become coheirs to the gifts belonging to the Son. A new level of participation in the divine life is opened for us. When we share in the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist, we move into a new level of existence. We do not only participate in the divine reality brought about by the new covenant, but we put ourselves on a path to become what we receive: the Body and Blood of Christ.
-fr. Alberto Rodriguez, O.P.