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Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, Year B, June 7 or June 10, 2012
Twenty-second digests for the congregation: Arrange with your liturgy committee to have these brief historical introductions read to the assembly before you do each reading.
Who should announce these before the first and second readings, and before the gospel acclamation? They're not Scripture, nor homiletic, so they shouldn't be delivered from the ambo. They're a modest teaching. So let the presider say them from the chair. Let the lector turn toward the presider and listen.
Print this page, cut it at the blue lines, and give the introduction paragraphs to the person who will speak them.
|Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, Year B, June 7 or June 10, 2012|
Before the first reading:
For a people struggling to recover their past integrity, the Book of Exodus reminds them of the covenant God offered at their foundation, sealed with a ritual that woud become routine.
After the psalm, before the second reading:
Some Jews who had accepted Jesus were expelled from their synagogues and even their families. They felt cut off from their whole tradition. This author tries to show them that Jesus and their new community replace everything they have lost, and give them something better.
Before the gospel acclamation:
The earliest readers of this gospel would have found parts of it strange, and parts familiar. But Jesus gives even the familiar a new meaning.
To pay for use of the words above, please subtract an equal number of optional words from other places in the liturgy (click here for some suggestions).
Proclaiming It: When Moses recited "all the words and ordinances of the Lord," he was stating the Covenant that God wanted to make with Israel. It came down to this: "I will be your God, you will be my people, and this is how you'll behave as you live out this covenant." Note that both the first and second paragraphs (paragraphs are no longer shown in online renditions) end with the people's hearty assent to the covenant. Emphasize those with your voice in your reading.It would also help your hearers envision the scenes if you read slowly. Break up the sentences where it makes sense to do so, without undue loyalty to the arbitrary punctuation in our translations. Help your assembly see the altar at the foot of the mountain, and the twelve pillars. Make sure they hear that it is blood that Moses gathers from the sacrifices. When Moses splashes the blood on the altar, say the word "splash" so that your people hear the splash. (This works in English (in the U.S., at least, where the translation comes from The New American Bible) because the word "splash" sounds like what it means. That does not seem true of this Spanish translation, "y la otra mitad la derramó sobre el altar," or of The New Jerusalem Bible rendition, "Then Moses took the blood and cast it towards the people.")
Say with great solemnity Moses' words "This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words of his." The deacon or presbyter who proclaims today's gospel will find an adaptation of these words on the lips of Jesus. Then the presbyter who pronounces the intstituion narrative in the eucharistic prayer will speak another version. If the lector makes the first announcement of the covenant memorably, some hearers may draw the connections that have always been part of God's plan for us.
In the first ten verses of chapter 9 the letter details the worship space and priestly rituals of the old covenant. Then, in the verses of our selection, it contrasts Christ's role as unique priest in the heavenly temple of the new covenant. Every sentence bespeaks a difference between what Jesus has established and what had gone before.
Proclaiming It: So to do justice to this passage in your proclamation, use strong contrast in your voice to show how our covenant in Christ contrasts with the old covenant. The sentences are complex and call for careful rehearsal. You might try reading this aloud to a friend or family member. Don't let your hearer read the passage; they should hear it from you first. Then ask him or her what they heard. Their incomprehension should spur you to try again, slower, with more contrast and expression.
Here are specific contrasts in this reading:
Segue to the Eucharistic meal: Jesus could have made any ritual the sacrament of communion with him. He could have said "In memory of me, tie blue ribbons around your heads, hold hands in a circle, and chant my name. Then I'll be truly present in your midst, body and blood, soul and divinity." Had he said so, we would believe it, and do it, and it would work. It would only seem strange to the first generation, just as Jesus' presence in the ritual meal seemed strange to the first generation who tried to comprehend it (remembered in John 6:41-69).
So why did he choose the meal as the sacramental sign of his union with us? Well, when you're stripped of anything to eat, you begin to miss it pretty quickly. Physical hunger, with its debilitating effects when it's prolonged, is a most vivid sign of what it's like not to have God in your life and to be excommunicated from the community of believers. When you're really hungry, that's the only thing you can think of. Just as the meal is the perfect relief from hunger, union with Jesus and the community of believers is the perfect relief of our spiritual ills. And the Eucharistic meal is the perfect sign of that satisfaction. (This is the reason that fasting before communion is, or could be again, part of the ritual action.)
|Several other commentaries on these passages. All are thoughtful, all quite readable, from the scholarly to the popular.
Links may be incomplete more than a few weeks before the "due date."
|Father Roger Karban of Belleville, Illinois, USA, writes a newspaper column about every Sunday's readings. Here are his essays for today's passages, from: Read all of Father Karban's recent columns here, at the site of FOSIL, the Faithful of Southern Illinois.||Archived weekly column of the late Father Francis X. Cleary, S.J. (Log in using 0026437 and 63137.) From the site of the Saint Louis Review.|
|The Text This Week; links to homilies, art works, movies and other resources on the week's scripture themes||
Saint Louis University's excellent new site for liturgy
Most welcome here are Reginald Fuller's commentaries.
(Caveat lector as of May 23, 2012. Lector's Notes' author is speculating about the exact URL of SLU's June 18 offering, since it's not yet posted. If you get a 404 Not Found, try here).
The Lectionary selections in the frame at the left, if any, are there for your convenience. The publishers of the page in that frame have no connection, except for membership in the one Body of Christ, with the publisher of this page. Likewise the publishers of the pages on the links above.