“Christ… entered once for all into the sanctuary, not with the blood of goats and calves but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls… can sanctify those who are defiled how much more will the blood of Christ…” (Heb 9:11-14)
While every Sunday Mass is a blessed participation in the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 10:16) the Church sets aside one special day in its calendar to honor the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist as the gracious and precious gift beyond all imagining. On this solemn feast of Corpus Christi not only do we celebrate in church the blood of the new covenant of Our Lord; we march this Body of Christ from church to church like King David and the Israelites advancing into Jerusalem with the Ark of the old covenant (2 Sam 6). Our procession is more solemn than that of David who danced before the Ark. This is because we recall the redemptive suffering (Lk 9:22), the crushing infirmity of Jesus (Is 53:10) and the pouring out of this Sacred Blood for our salvation (Jn 19:34). Nevertheless we are joyous of heart in thankful procession; yet still we lament over the plight of an unrepentant world to which we expose Our Blessed Lord for its deep conversion.
As to our quote from Sacred Scripture for this Sunday of Corpus Christi (Body of Christ), the sanctuary (or “Holy Place”) mentioned is the sanctuary of heaven. If for a while the natural blood of animals could make one ritually pure (as a foreshadowing and an instruction), only the divine blood of Jesus is able to thoroughly purify and sanctify the human soul. In the case of the human soul after the Fall of Adam – even to this present day – it is the defilement of sin that makes sanctification necessary. Without sanctification, there is no heaven for man. It is Jesus, this living Bread come down from heaven (Jn 6:51), this Holy Eucharist, which, through our sincere and worthy reception, strengthens us for a life in holiness.
The image we have chosen for our bulletin cover for this wonderful feast day is Adoration of the Lamb (1429) by the great Northern Renaissance painter, Jan van Eyck. It is replete with heavenly (and therefore) liturgical significance. Jesus is represented as the Lamb whose arteries and vessels have been severed and whose blood is poured out into a chalice on the altar to signify the transformation of wine into the Eucharistic Blood. The precious Blood and holy Body are honored here in reverent Benediction by encircling angels, two who are seen incensing the sacrifice of the Son – a pleasingly, fragrant offering to the Father.
Jesus is also represented as the fountain of life (Ez 47:1) watering all the land producing a great orchard of healing (Ez 47:12) before the city of God. Clockwise from the lower left are four groups: laity, bishops and holy women (both here unseen), and monks or scribes – representing the worshipful People of God. All is lit in the divine light of the Holy Spirit (Rev 21:23).
All this abundant joy is for the Lamb of God, the Body of Christ, which takes away the sins of the world (Jn 1:29)
-Steve Guillotte (Director of Pastoral Services)