Saturday, July 20, 2024

Eucharistic Revival Series: Sharing Body and Blood

Many, many years ago, when I was in middle school, I spent hours at my parents’ Godson’s house. You see, he lived on a 10-acre property with a small lake and a large, wooded area. There were five other children in his family, with only about a seven-year difference in their ages. I absolutely loved playing with the Wyble “gang.”

The Wyble child that was closest to my age was Kenneth, or “KC.” We quickly became the best of friends. He taught me how to pop a wheelie on my bike and I taught him how to skip stones. We both loved looking for newts under rocks in the stream that went through his property and catching tadpoles and guppies with our bare hands. We wanted our friendship to last forever.

At one point, he mentioned to me that he watched something on an episode on “Gomer Pyle” that would make our friendship last forever; we would become a blood sister and brother by slitting our thumbs and allowing our blood to mingle. Honestly, I was a bit leery in purposely cutting my thumb and causing it to bleed, but I wanted our friendship to continue. So, I offered him my thumb and allowed him to make a tiny cut. I watched him as he did the same to his thumb. Joyfully, as we allowed the prick on our thumbs to bleed with one other, we knew our friendship would last forever.

I could not help thinking of this as I continue my series on the Eucharist. During the prayer of Consecration during Mass, we hear the celebrant use the following words, “This is my body …. This is my blood.”

As Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa writes in “The Eucharist, Our Sanctification, “The word ‘body’ indicates … the whole of life. In instituting the Eucharist, Jesus left us the gift of his whole life, from the first moment of the incarnation to the very end, including all that had made up his life: silence, sweat, hardship, prayer, struggle, joy, humiliation … Then Jesus also said, ‘This is my blood.’ What else does he give us with his blood if he has already given us all his life by giving us his body? He adds death! Having given us his life, he now gives us its most precious part – his death. … The Eucharist is the mystery of the Body and Blood of the Lord, that is the life and death of the Lord! … [During Mass] we offer what Jesus offered: life and death. By ‘body’ we offer all that actually constitutes our physical life: time, health, energy, ability, sentiments, perhaps just a smile, that only a spirit living in a body can give and which is so precious at times. By ‘blood,’ we express the offering of our death; not necessarily our final death, or martyrdom for Christ or our brethren. Death means also all that right now prepares and anticipates our death: humiliations, failures, sickness that cripples us, limits due to age or health, everything that ‘mortifies’ us. … We must really make the effort, each one within his or her own limits, to offer our ‘bodies’ to our brethren, and that is to say, our time, energy and attention – in a word, our lives.”1

So, when we participate in the Sacrifice of the Mass and partake of the Eucharist, we share our body and our blood not just with those present at mass with us, but with the entire Mystical Body of Christ.

Savor that idea! We actually become, in a sense, blood brothers and sisters with all of humanity as we share in the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Incredible!

1Cantalamessa, Raniero. The Eucharist, Our Sanctification. St Pauls, 2016. Pg. 22-23.

By Sister Geralyn Schmidt, SCC, Special to The Witness

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