First Reading: Exodus 24:3-8
Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice, and said, "All the words which the LORD has spoken we will do." And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD. And he rose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. And he sent young men of the people of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the LORD. And Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he threw against the altar. Then he took the book of the covenant, and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, "All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient." And Moses took the blood and threw it upon the people, and said, "Behold the blood of the covenant which the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words."
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 116:12-13, 15-18
What shall I render to the LORD for all his bounty to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD, Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. O LORD, I am thy servant; I am thy servant, the son of thy handmaid. Thou hast loosed my bonds. I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people.
Gospel: Hebrews 9:11-15
But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the Holy Place, taking not the blood of goats and calves but his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify your conscience from dead works to serve the living God. Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred which redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant.
I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving . . . a sacrifice of thanksgiving.
Do you know the Greek word for thanksgiving? Eucharist. As Catholics, we know Eucharist as the sacrament in remembrance of Jesus’ perfect sacrifice, the sacrament Jesus institutes in today’s Gospel reading. We also hear today the stories of the old and new covenants. The First Reading details Moses’ faithful keeping of the old covenant. The Second Reading explains to us how the new covenant is a completion of the old, and in the Gospel we hear Jesus institute the new covenant: His Body and Blood. He gives us Himself. He gives us the Eucharist.
What role does the sacrament of the Eucharist play in your life? As we receive the sacrament on a weekly (or even daily) basis, there is a danger that the Eucharist begins to seem normal, becomes part of a routine, is something we are accustomed to receiving. As much as I’d like to say it isn’t true, I know that I have fallen into that trap at times. But the Eucharist is far from ordinary, sisters. The Eucharist is extraordinary. It is miraculous. By the Eucharist we are saved—it is the sacrament of our salvation. A sacrament of a love and a mercy that run deeper than we can even begin to fathom.
So when you receive this sacrament, this gift above all others, when you receive—enter into—communion with Jesus, are you changed? Are you transformed? Because we should be, sisters. We have to open ourselves up to receiving the fullness of His unfailing love, tender mercy, and abundant grace, which is found in this gift of His Son. If we are open to it, He will change our hearts in this union with us. He gives us Himself to be one with us. And as we are one with Him, we are united with the rest of the Church, and we are called to action. We are called to serve. We are called to love. We are called to sacrifice. And we are called to give thanks.
Lord Jesus, give us a deeper understanding of the mystery of your love in the Eucharist. May our desire for you be the deepest longing of our hearts. And as we receive you, may we be transformed into the women you call us to be.
Elise Howe is a devoted wife, new momma, and musician currently living in NYC, though she will always be a midwestern gal at heart. You can find out more about her here.