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This Sunday's Programme

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Feast of the Body and Blood of Our Lord

Sunday 2nd June 2024

The Gospel Paraphrased

There are many fine translations of the Gospels readily available. This paraphrase is not meant to replace them. Rather the intention here is to offer a more contemporary rendering so that you can imaginatively translate the Gospel in your own situation.

This Sunday's Gospel Paraphrased

Mk 14:12-16, 22-26.

On the first day of the Passover festival, when the lambs were sacrificed, the disciples asked Jesus, ‘Where do you want us to go and prepare the Passover?’ He sent out two of them saying, ‘Go into the city and you will come across a man carrying a water jar. Follow him! At whatever house he goes into, say to the owner, “The Master says, where is the guestroom where I can eat Passover with my disciples?” He will show you a large upstairs room, already furnished with dining lounges. Get everything ready there.’ His disciples went, came into the city and everything happened just as he said. So they had everything ready for Passover.

As they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessing it, he broke it and gave it to them saying. ‘Take! Eat! This is my body.’ Then he took the cup and when he had given thanks he gave it to them and they all drank. He then said to them, ‘This is my blood of the new covenant, which will be shed for all. Truly, I’m telling you seriously, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until I drink the new wine of the Kingdom of God.’ And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Psalm

The Psalms are the ancient prayers of the Jewish people, here paraphrased into contemporary language.

This Sunday's Psalm

Ps 115: 12-13, 15-18

What can I offer to God
for all that he has done for me?
I will take the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the Lord.

Precious in the sight of God
is the death of his holy ones.
O, Lord God, I am truly your servant!
You have released me from my bonds.

To you I will offer a sacrifice of praise.
I will call on God’s name.
I will fulfil my vows to God
in the presence of all his people.

 

Prayers

Words cannot contain our desire for God but they help direct our minds and hearts towards God's love and express our needs.

This Sunday's Prayer

Loving God, the mystery of your love surrounds us all our days. Send us your Spirit that we may marvel at the extraordinary gift, Jesus gave us under the signs of bread and wine. As we partake of his Body and Blood, may our lives be radiant with his self-giving love.

The Commentaries Summarised

As a Church we are in a web of wisdom that comes to us both from tradition and contemporary writers. This section offers a summary of some commentaries on the Gospel. Also below is a list of the books and articles that have been consulted in compiling this Sunday's "Pray As You Can" and which could be used for further reading.

This Sunday's Commentary

In this Sunday’s Gospel, we have Mark’s account of the institution of the Eucharist. Jesus is in Jerusalem and, in a way that echoes his entry into that city, he sends two of his disciples with detailed instructions on how to find the room where they will celebrate Passover. In finding the house, everything happens as he predicts. The man carrying the water jug stands out because men usually carried water in skins, women in jars. While his coming suffering and death seem like the chaos of human evil, the loving care of God is at work in the person of Jesus.

Our Gospel text goes straight to the blessing of the bread and wine, missing out the prediction of the betrayal of Judas. In Mark’s account, Judas is present throughout the celebration and, in a gesture of great intimacy, Jesus still dips into the same dish as his betrayer. Straight after this reading, Jesus predicts the desertion and denials of him by the rest of his disciples. So the institution of the Eucharist, the sign by which they are to remember the self-giving love of Jesus, is sandwiched between accounts of abject human frailty and sin.

The ritual is inserted into the Jewish Passover ceremony. By this meal, the Jews believed that they were partaking in the wonder of Exodus and reaffirming their covenant with God. In line with that meta-historical view of reality, we also believe that when we celebrate Eucharist, we enter into the self-giving love of Jesus in that meal and in his subsequent Death and Resurrection.

Exposition

Christian conversion is promoted by conversation. This section is a response to and a development on the knowledge gained from the commentary section.

This Sunday's Exposition

Small gestures can say so much. When one of my nephews went through a taciturn/morose stage, he always said ‘good-bye’ to the family as he went out. It meant a lot to his mum. He also would pick up and play with his baby brother if he cried…that too meant a lot. On the outside, while it looked like he was wrapped up in himself, these small gestures showed he still belonged to his family and cared for them.

When Jesus chose to use bread and wine to convey his very self, bread and wine were the most common of foods: bread, the staple food, wine, the ordinary beverage. Could he have chosen elements more ordinary and common? Yet those elements convey to us the fullness of love that Jesus showed in his death and resurrection. Our sharing in the Eucharist also looks like one of these small gestures. We receive only a small portion of bread, only a sip of wine, but we believe they give us the Body, the Blood, the Soul and the Divinity, the very Life of Jesus. It is too overwhelming for us to take on board so we come back week after week celebrating these small gestures that led to the fullness of life.

As we enter into our week, we can ask ourselves, what small gestures will we offer to those around us by which we will show deep and abiding love? Rarely do we have the opportunity to do something grand – that doesn’t make our love the less. But in the small things we do for each other, the love of Jesus that we have received in the Eucharist can flow and offer the fullness of Love.

 

Reflection

Reflection is an essential element of our growth in Christ. As we reflect over what we have learnt and ponder it in our hearts, we come to recognise the presence of God in our lives.

This Sunday's Reflection

From the earliest time in the Church, the practice for reception of Communion has been to receive the Eucharist. Yet Jesus told us to take so we need to consider what this ‘take’ may mean in our relationship with him. The ritual, as Jesus instituted it, is based on the Jewish experience of covenant. A covenant is not a one-way commitment. Both parties have to agree and act according to their agreement. The primary covenant of the Old Testament was made on Mt Sinai when God invited the people into relationship and they solemnly committed themselves to be his people following his commandments. A covenant with God can be tricky – God is utterly faithful while we are weak…but then God knows that. He knew it of the Jewish people, Jesus knew it of the disciples with whom he celebrated that first Eucharist, and he knows it of us.

Jesus instituted the new and eternal Covenant in his dying and rising and, in some mysterious way, linked this to his celebration of Eucharist with bread and wine. When Jesus tells us to ‘take’ we are invited into personal covenant with him and we agree to live by his teaching. Our ‘Amen’ in receiving the Eucharist is not only an ‘I believe in the presence of Jesus Christ in this Bread and Wine’, it is also ‘I commit myself to this relationship and to the teaching of Jesus Christ in my life.’ No wonder, then, when we leave the church at the end of Eucharist, we are told to ‘Go and preach the Good News.’ How we live our lives outside of church shows how sincerely we have ‘taken’ the Eucharist.

 

Visual Meditation

Looking at art works or movies is a great way to open ourselves to the meaning of the Gospels. Seeing can bypass our preconceived notions, giving us new vistas of enlightenment. With painting or sculpture one needs to sit quietly and absorb the dynamics of the piece. The drama of movies more easily engages us and offers a way to conversation about the Gospel with other members of your family.

This Sunday's Visual Meditation

–  In this highly complex illumination by Attavante Degli Attavanti the scene of the Last Supper is in the lower right hand corner.  Note how Judas is depicted all in black on the opposite side of the table from the Jesus and the rest of the disciples.  Interestingly, all Gospel texts show that not one of the disciples recognised Judas as a betrayer.

–   In this painting The Eucharist by Nicolas Poussin, after the style of Antione Greys, we see Jesus and the disciples reclining for their meal.

–  Another painting by Nicolas Poussin  which shows an amazing interplay of dark and light.

– This painting by Tintoretto shows the Last Supper in an unusual light.  Angels, women servants, even animals are present in what seems like a chaotic human experience.

–  The Elements of Communion by Jacques Iselin.

– This is a print of the Eucharist by the Japanese artist Sadao Watanabe.

– This is a abstract painting, Do this in Remembrance of Me by contemporary artist Sandra Bowden.

Mulling Meditation

The purpose of mulling meditations is to offer a few ideas that one can mull about while doing other occupations. There are many things we do in our day that do not require our full attention - some things which are largely done on automatic pilot - like driving a car or peeling the potatoes. While we give these our attention, part of our mind is still at work mulling on other things and unless it is given something positive to feed on, we easily feed on negative thoughts. Personally I find mulling time the most likely time for God to get through to me. Because I am not so conscious of myself, God gets through the cracks and opens my heart to look at life differently.
Two practical times for mulling can be when exercising and when driving. Some small preparations for integrating such prayer into these exercises can be helpful.

Exercising
As you do your preparatory stretches, pray the line of the Psalm "I praise you God for I am wonderfully made!"
Similarly when doing your concluding stretches use the prayer of St Clare "Praised be you, my God, for creating me!"

Driving
Have some music that you find helps you turn you mind and heart to God and play that for the first 10 minutes or so of your trip.

This Sunday's Mulling Meditation

As you go through this week, mull on how Jesus used the most ordinary things, bread and wine, to convey his life, love and presence to us. Try to appreciate the ordinary things of your life as sacraments of God’s love.

Mirror Meditation

In the Letter of James, we are told that the Scriptures are like a mirror in which we can see ourselves. In this type of meditation we take a piece of Scripture, hold it before us and consider what echoes within our heart. These echoes help us to see who we are before God and how we are loved. What usually echoes in us are situations that we are dealing with in our lives. When something strikes us, we do not actively try to solve the situation or work it through. Rather we sit holding it in God's love. The point of such a meditation is to make space within the situation for God's love to be. In 'sitting with' such a situation, painful or sad, we come to recognise the love of God that is at work on our lives. The suggestions for Mirror reflections can also be used for Exercise reflections but wouldn't be advised for Driving Prayer as often some degree of emotion or distraction might rise in such prayer.

This Sunday's Mirror Meditation

Rest in the love of your God.

Mull over how Jesus instituted the Eucharist at a meal that he shared with his betrayer. While he named what Judas was about to do, he still continued to offer his love. Jesus knew too the weakness of his other disciples. As you sit quietly, ponder on your own weakness and the time you have betrayed – yourself, others, God and remember that in spite of it all, Jesus stills offers himself to you in love. Rest in that love.

When you are at rest in that love, consider the times you have been betrayed by others. Ask Jesus to allow his wise forgiving love to come and guide your mind and heart and allow you to forgive.

Rest in the love of your God.