Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Notion of 'covenant' reminds us that Our salvation is bound together

In preparation for the first lot of Church Appeals this weekend, I have offered Catholic Mission's Ambassadors some thoughts on the readings they will be following at Masses.
• A recurring word or image in all of the readings today is ‘covenant’. The Macquarie Dictionary gives a couple of definitions for this word, including: “an agreement between two or more persons to do, or refrain from doing, some act” and, in the context of Biblical writings, a covenant is “the agreement or engagement of God with man as set forth in the Old and New Testaments”.
• On this day of the Body and Blood of Christ, we are reminded of how the Blood of Jesus was poured out, via his death on the Cross, as part of the new covenant between God and His people. The covenant established between God and the Israelites, as shown in the first reading, and marked by the offering of bullock blood, is replaced with the blood symbolically offered by Jesus at the Last Supper.
• What all this means for us, on this day of the Catholic Mission Appeals, is that the covenant we have entered into, as Christians, involves us giving of ourselves to others. Our generosity becomes the lifeblood for those in difficult circumstances, such as poverty, oppression, disease and famine.
• For us at Catholics, when we give of ourselves, be it through time, talent or treasure, we are not only demonstrating our willingness to be good stewards but we are also honouring our obligations under the ‘new covenant’ referred to in the 2nd reading. Our actions are full of life, not death, as Paul writes to the Hebrews.
• Each time we gather for Mass, the Eucharist becomes the summit and the source of our time together. The words attributed to Jesus in today’s Gospel from Mark form key parts of our Eucharistic liturgy. As such, this Gospel should resonate quite strongly with us. However, consider what happens before Jesus proclaims those immortal statements of “Take it, this is my body” and “This is my blood…poured out for many”.
• Before that meal occurred, we hear how the disciples encountered a man with a “pitcher of water”. They then spoke to the owner of a house. Finally, they prepared an Upper Room.
• What today’s Gospel reminds us is that any meal requires preparation. It also requires us all to be involved. The Eucharist would be a barren experience if it was just the priest standing at the altar, in an empty church. Conversely, Communion would lose its sacredness if we were all there and there was no priest to repeat the words of Jesus.
• When we all come together however, faith comes to life! Catholic Mission works the same way: we can’t do much without the generosity of people such as you here at (insert name of parish you are addressing). As you take up the envelopes on your seats, perhaps consider your donations like this: they are the blood that helps us bring life to others. No matter how big or small the amount you contribute, it will bring life to many.
• On this Feast of Corpus Christi, please prayerfully consider your ability to financially support our work, both at home and overseas. Like the man carrying the jug of water, every contribution counts.

Useful references I drew upon in preparing these notes and comments included Break Open the Word (Year B – 2009). A useful website you also might like to explore are www.dailyscripture.net (click on the relevant date).

No comments:

Post a Comment