Mosaic of Saint Helen at the church façade

The Power and Poetry of Christ’s Gift at the Last Supper

Posted : Jun-05-2021

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Fr. Frank McDevitt is the pastor of Our Lady of Grace Parish in Aurora, Ont.

Corpus Christi: This is the great feast of the imagination.

The Church has traditions of great pomp connected to the Eucharist: processions and benediction.

There is also this tradition of quiet and singular meditation before the tabernacle or monstrance.

To come to an appreciation of these moments, we need imaginations that can grasp the power and poetry of Christ’s gift given to us at the Last Supper.

It would have to be a pretty fertile imagination to create a more dramatic scene than that found in the Book of Exodus today. Moses throws the blood of the sacrificed bulls on the altar and on the people as a response to their willingness to accept the commandments and statutes of God.        

There is a thread that runs from this epic moment in the Old Testament to Jesus at the Last Supper offering the bread and the cup as the lasting memorial of the great and final sacrifice of Calvary. The eternal covenant.

From the very earliest of times, the people placed great significance on sacrifice to God.

They freely destroyed the fruits of the earth and their livestock as a sacrifice to God.

The sacrifices of the Old Covenant have given way to the new covenant, who is Christ Himself.

Christ at the Last Supper called on us to be centered in His sacrifice at Calvary.

We are beings blessed with imaginations.

Each Eucharist takes us to Calvary and beyond the cross to the empty tomb.

We do not sacrifice the first fruits of the earth, but the first born of many.

Not the choicest beasts of the herd, but the son of God.

Not the blood of oxen, the blood of Christ.

And yet the Book of Hebrews remind us in this sacrament we worship the living God. For no ritual sacrifice can ever be relevant again. All is in Christ.

When we come to Eucharist we are not play acting. In fact, we are taking the clay of the Last Supper and moulding it for our present age and for our lives.

We do not create new clay.

For two thousand years this clay has been moulded so that we may come to an understanding what Christ offered at the Last Supper and how we are to know him today in the breaking of the bread.

As we come to this Eucharist, we do not just bring bread and wine.

We bring our own sacrifices, too, and unite them with Christ on the altar.

We bring the work of our hands, reflected in the support we give to the community of faith.

We bring our needs.

We bring our disappointments and struggles. Our aches and pains. Our imperfections and failures. We give them over to God.

For this altar is Calvary and we place our sacrifices at the foot of His cross.     

And yet, at the same time, this altar is also the empty tomb. The promise of Christ alive and with us forever.

So we bring the first joys of our lives too.   

We place on the altar the blessings and successes of our lives. We freely put them in God’s hands conscious that it is He who gives them to us.

We give all of our sufferings to the suffering Christ.

We give all of our joys and hope to the risen Christ who nourishes us.

Not only bread and wine, we place on this altar: our prayers of petition and thanksgiving for our every need and joy. 

We stand in solidarity and come forward to receive the living Christ in this sacrament.

On this Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, let us give thanks for our imaginations, which take the poetry and drama of the Eucharist and plant it deep in our lives.

Christ gives of Himself so freely for you and for me.

And by giving His body He gives us the promise that we will be His body.

Let us celebrate this feast in the confident trust in all that Christ gives and all that He calls us to be. It is almost too good to imagine.

This reflection is based on the readings from the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ: Exodus 24.3-8; Hebrews 9.11-15; Mark 14.12-16, 22-26.