MARK 14:22-25 (Today’s Gospel Reading: Mark 14:12-16,22-26)

Jakarta, 6 June 2021

A Christian Pilgrim


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(A biblical reflection on SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY SUNDAY: THE BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST – 6 June 2021)

Gospel Reading: Mark 14:12-16,22-26

First Reading: Exodus 24:3-8; Psalms: Psalm 116:12-13,15-18, Second Reading: Hebrews 9:11-15

The Scripture Text

And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, His disciples said to Him, “Where will You have us go and prepare for You to eat the Passover?” And He sent two of His disciples, and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the householder, ‘The teacher says, Where is My guest room, where I am to eat the Passover with My disciples?’  And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready, there prepare for us.” And the disciples set out and went to the city, and found it as He had told them; and they prepared the Passover.

And as they were eating, He took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and give it to them, and said, “Take; this is My body.” And He took a cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And He said to them, “This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly, I say to you, I shall not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the Kingdom of God.”

Ang when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.(Mark 14:12-16,22-26 RSV)

In New York City in 1985, Brigitte Gerney got pinned beneath a fallen construction crane. For six torturous hours, paramedics struggled frantically to keep her alive until she could be rescued.

During that ordeal Brigitte was given not only blood transfusions, fluids and painkillers, but also the Eucharist which she specifically asked for. Brigitte was then taken to a hospital where doctors operated on her for another five hours.

The crane accident was only the most recent of a whole series of mishaps Brigitte has suffered. During the previous fifteen years, her first child had drowned accidentally at age 18 months, her husband died of cancer, her father was killed in an automobile accident, she had two operations to remove cancer and she had suffered multiple injuries in a cable car crash in Switzerland in 1982.

And yet, after all that, Brigitte Gerney did not curse Christ when she was under the crane. She asked for Him in the Eucharist. She did not blame God for her bad luck. She asked her rescuers to pray with her. No wonder Dr. Tom Fahey, Jr. said of her: “She has indomitable spirit and a strong faith in God.”

Do we have that kind of faith? Do we believe that strongly in Christ’s presence in the Eucharist? On this Feast of Corpus Christi we have an opportunity to reaffirm our faith in the Eucharist. Today we can take our stand with the people of Exodus and accept God’s covenant with us: “Lord, all you’ve said at the Last Supper about the Eucharist, we will believe. All you have commanded about it, we will do.”

During the Exodus journey God gave the Israelites manna from heaven to feed them. On the strength of that food they were able to travel forty years through the desert.

During her excruciating ordeal Brigitte Gerney requested and received the Eucharist. On the strength of that bread she was able to survive the six hours she was pinned under the crane and another five hours of surgery.

During our own personal journey through life we sometimes have to cross deserts, encounter accidents, endure disappointments or suffer tragedies. By ourselves we could never survive. Left to our own strength we would give up. That is why we need the Eucharist and the strength that comes from this bread to energize our spirits. This is why we need God’s special presence and power.

In Mark’s Gospel we read how our Lord left the upper room and walked out to the Mount of Olives. What He left was the Last Supper during which He instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist. His walking out to the Mount of Olives was also something very sacramental and symbolic. Jesus was showing that He was ready for His rendezvous with destiny and that He was resolved to lay down His life for us on the cross.

May this often be our own experience after celebrating the Eucharist. Coming in we may be afraid of what we have to face in the future. But when we leave, may we be ready and resolved to take up our cross. Coming in we may have serious doubts about how to deal with certain difficulties. But when we leave, may we be filled with determination to do what God expects of us.

Do we believe that this is possible? Brigitte Gerney did. Otherwise how can we explain her indomitable spirit in the face of all the tragedies she experienced?

As we continue the Eucharistic celebration, pray for Brigitte’s kind of faith in the Eucharist; a faith which firmly believes that Christ is always present in the Eucharist, regardless of how absent He may seem to be at times; a faith which believes that Christ’s power is always available to us, regardless of how helpless we may feel at times; a faith which enables us to walk with our Lord to our own Mount of Olives and to rise with Him in glory.

Source: Albert Cylwicki, CSB, HIS WORD RESOUNDS, Makati, Philippines: St. Paul Publications,1991, pages 142-143.

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, thank You for feeding and strengthening me with Your body and blood. Thank You for filling my hunger. Light my way as I seek to bring Your life to others. Amen.

Jakarta, 5 June 2021

A Christian Pilgrim


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JOHN 6:51 (Today’s Gospel Reading: John 6:51-58)

Jakarta, 14 June 2020 [Corpus Christi Sunday]

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THE LIVING BREAD: Solemnity of the most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus Christ [Year A] – John 6:51-58

Jakarta, 14 June 2020

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Posted by on June 14, 2020 in EUCHARIST, MISCELLANY


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(A biblical reflection on the Solemnity of THE BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST [Year A] – Sunday, 14 June 2020)

Gospel Reading: John 6:51-58 

First Reading: Deuteronomy 8:2-3,14-16; Psalms: Psalm 147:12-15,19-20, Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 10:16-17 

The Scripture Text

“I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood, you have no life in you; he who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever.” (John 6:51-58 RSV)

In today’s Gospel John picks up the theme of the manna and contrasts the bread the Jewish ancestors ate in the desert with the new bread of life given by Jesus. In the person of Jesus there is a new word of God and a new bread from heaven. Now the Word of God has become flesh, and the bread of heaven is the very life of Jesus Himself. To eat this bread is to have a share in the life of God Himself; it is to participate in eternal life.

It is at the Last Supper that Jesus gives Himself away as food and drink to His followers: “This is My body which will be give up for you. This is My blood which will be shed for you. Do this in memory of Me.”  During the last meal of His earthly life Jesus charges His disciples to keep His memory alive by gathering together to break bread. Whatever else they do, His followers must remember to eat in His name. 

Our eucharist is a celebration of thanksgiving of what Jesus has done. Lest we forget what He has done, we assemble to hold that memory sacred. That is why after the consecration we pray in the eucharistic prayers:

  • Father, we celebrate the memory of Christ, Your Son (I)
  • In memory of His death and resurrection … (II)
  • Father, calling to mind the death Your Son endured … (III)
  • Father, we now celebrate this memorial … (IV)

Each of the eucharistic prayers expresses the purpose of our gathering: the refusal to forget what Jesus has done in His body. We keep the memory fresh; se celebrate it anew; and in celebrating we receive new life for our own journey in faith. Whether we live in the midst of affliction or affluence, we come together as a community to profess that what Jesus did for us has a continuing importance. Today. Our celebration of the eucharist keeps us from being a thankless people.

In celebrating the eucharist we celebrate a dangerous memory: the memory of suffering, passion and death. We recall Jesus’ radical values that put Him in opposition to so many of His own people: His talk about God and the Kingdom; His insistence on forgiveness; His opposition to religious sham; His commitment to peace; His willingness to die to overcome sin. In receiving the body and blood of Christ we become His body in our world. As St. Paul says: “Though there are many of us, we form a single body because we share in this one loaf”. In communion we share with Christ and with one another; we become one with His memory. That way, His memory never dies. 

Short Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, You gave Your Church an admirable sacrament as the abiding memorial of Your passion. Teach us to worship the sacred mystery of Your Body and Blood, that its redeeming power may sanctify us always. We pray this in Your name, you who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Jakarta, 13 June 2020 [The Feast of St. Anthony of Padua, Priest and Doctor of the Church] 

A Christian Pilgrim


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THEY ALL ATE AND WERE SATISFIED: The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ [Year C] – Luke 9:11b-17

Jakarta, 23 June 2019 [Corpus Christi Sunday]

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Posted by on June 23, 2019 in MISCELLANY


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(A biblical reflection on the Solemnity of CORPUS CHRISTI – Sunday, 23 June 2019)

Gospel Reading: Luke 9:11-17 

First Reading: Genesis 14:18-20; Psalms: Psalm 110:1-4, Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 

The Scripture Text

When the crowds learned it, they followed Him; and He welcomed them and spoke to them of the Kingdom of God, and cured those who had need of healing. Now the day began to wear away; and the twelve came and said to Him, “Send the crowd away, to go into the villages and country round about, to lodge and get provisions; for we are here in a lonely place.” But He said to them, “You give them something to eat.” They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish – unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.” For there were about five thousand men. And He said to His disciples, “make them sit down in companies, about fifty each.” And they did so, and made them all sit down. And taking the five loaves and the two fist he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. And all ate and were satisfied. And they took up what was left over, twelve baskets of broken pieces. (Luke 9:11-17 RSV) 

Corpus Christi Sunday is a day when we celebrate Jesus’ goodness in feeding us through the Holy Eucharist.

Today’s Gospel recounts the story of how Jesus satisfies the hunger of a large multitude with just a few fish and a few loaves of bread. Focusing on the great number of people Jesus fed, we often overlook another significant detail. Before giving the food to the people to eat, Jesus raised His eyes to heaven and pronounced a blessing on it (said grace). This blessing was a very important part of every Jewish meal because a pious Jew would not dare eat without first giving thanks to God who gives us all good things.

Although God does not need our thanks, giving Him thanks before we eat is a very appropriate response for all He has given us. Recall how you feel when you give something to someone and that person does not acknowledge your gift. The disappointment is bad enough when the ungrateful recipient is a stranger or someone you do not know very well but it is much more acute when the person is someone you love. In such a case, because the gift is an expression of your love, it is easy to feel it is your love, not just the gift, that the person does not appreciate.

With this in mind, we can readily understand how God feels when we fail to give thanks to Him for all the gifts He has so tenderly bestowed on us. Because of His great love for us, the pain and the disappointment God feels when we are ungrateful is acute. Our callousness can only communicate to Him how little we value His many expressions of love.

Today, on the Feast of Corpus Christi (which is Latin for “Body of Christ”), we celebrate and give thanks to God for the gift of the body and blood of His Son. Since the days of the early Church, Christians have understood the story in today’s Gospel to be symbolic of the celebration of the Eucharist. Scripture scholars believe this is the main reson why it is the only story we find in all four of the Gospels.

The greatest gift God could have given us is the gift of His Son, Jesus. Because of His immense love for us, He continues to give us this gift in the form of bread and wine. We take time today to thank God in a special way for this great gift, the gifts of His love.

(Adapted from Jerome J. Sabatowich, Cycling Through the Gospels – Gospel Commentaries for Cycles A, B, and C, pages 338-339.)

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, You gave Your Church an admirable sacrament as the abiding memorial of Your passion. Teach us so to worship the sacred mystery of your Body and Blood, that its redeeming power may sanctify us always.

Jakarta, 21 June 2019 

A Christian Pilgrim


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