The Body and Blood of Christ

Ex 24:3-8; Heb 9:11-15; Mk 14:12-26 & 22-26 (Year B)

Every meaningful relationship is built on the self-sacrifice of those entering into the relationship. It is a willing sacrifice, a mutual self-giving in which the one is entrusted to the other.

The relationship that Moses mediated between God and his people, the Covenant, was such a sacrifice. God had entrusted himself to his people as their saviour and deliverer. The people, in their turn, entrusted themselves to God and the observance of his Commandments. The mutuality of this self-giving was ritually expressed in the sacrificial blood sprinkled on both the altar and the people.

Jesus Christ, in his life and death, was the fulfilment of this ancient Covenant between God and his people. Moses had been the mediator of that old covenant, bringing salvation and God’s commandments to the people, and returning the prayers and loyalty of this people to their God. Jesus became, in his Incarnation, the God who gives himself to his people. In his death on the Cross he became the sacrifice through which a sinful people is taken to God. “He brings a new covenant, a mediator, only so that the people who were called to an eternal inheritance may actually receive what was promised: his death took place to cancel the sins that infringed the earlier covenant.”

The Eucharist, at the heart of the Church, expresses our enduring communion with the Father. It unites us to the sacrifice in which the Son of God gave himself to a sinful people. It embraces the willing response that we make to so great a love. “As they were eating he took some bread, he broke it and gave it to them saying: ‘Take it, this is my body.’ Then he took the cup and said: ‘This is my blood, the blood of the covenant, which is to be poured out for many.’ ”

​How to continue reading…

This article appears in the Catholic Herald magazine - to read it in full subscribe to our digital edition from just 30p a week

The Catholic Herald is your essential weekly guide to the Catholic world; latest news, incisive opinion, expert analysis and spiritual reflection