Corpus Christi Sunday (03 June 2018)
Scriptural Texts: Ex. 24:3-8, Ps 116, Heb 9:11-15, Mk 14:12-16, 22-26
Theme: Cemented with Blood (Life)
Author: Kristine Meneses
What has a table got to do with it? Pacts, agreements, contracts and other deals are signed on tables, where both parties are present. We might see a table as insignificant, yet it plays a role in witnessing binding covenants. In our readings today, altar and table are mentioned, and these are occasions of presence. In the first reading, the altar is not merely a prop of ritual, rather, it impresses to the Hebrew people that it is a locus of the Divine presence in their midst. The sprinkling of blood may not literally on the people, but on the pillars. The covenant was made between G-d and the people. The people verbally accepted G-d’s command when they said, “All that the L-rd has spoken we will faithfully do!” This utterance might seem simple, yet if we seek the Hebrew word, נַעֲשֶׂה וְנִשְׁמָע (na-ashe v’nishma), its roots are עָשָׂה (asha) and שָׁמַע (shama). These two words have a deeper meaning as compared to its simple translation of “do” and “obey”. When they uttered נַעֲשֶׂה (na-ashe), it means that they accept to be G-d’s messenger as well as its accompanied responsibility, while וְנִשְׁמָע (v’nishma) is their willingness to seek understanding, and this possible only when they keenly listen, hence its root word שָׁמַע (shama). Further, when taken together, the peoples’ acceptance of G-d’s covenant is an utterance of their faith in G-d who will *lead them to the right path, for His ordinances are reasonable and it is in their best interests. Deep trust is accompanied with the belief that G-d is always in their midst, and it is around the altar (a table) where they pledge their acceptance of the Divine ordinance, cementing it with a blood that bespeaks of life.
In the same manner, Jesus during the last supper (or his farewell party), presents a new covenant around the table of the Passover, the first day of the feast of Unleavened Bread. The table has become a locus of Jesus’ act of accepting people into the fold. Around the table, during meals, Jesus freely share himself to others who wish to listen שָׁמַע (shama) and learn וְנִשְׁמָע (v’nishma). The difference between Moshe and Jesus is that, with Moshe, the people gave their part of the covenant that is their verbal acceptance. With Jesus, the disciples were silent about the new covenant that he presents before them. It seems that Jesus does not need their assurance. With or without their verbal acceptance, his commitment to give is life, his body and blood, his all, for all remains. Why so? Because from the beginning, Jesus listened שָׁמַע (shama) to Abba and understood his call, and עָשָׂה (asha) accepted responsibility for the people he loves. Blood was not sprinkled, but shed. Jesus’ blood bespeaks his commitment, to share his life. We always equate Jesus’ shedding of blood to his death. Consequently, we forget how he lived his life, his body and blood, his very flesh, the person whose presence is grace to all. If in the first reading it was the people who pledge commitment, in the gospel, Jesus committed to offer and at the same time uttered, נַעֲשֶׂה וְנִשְׁמָע (na-ashe v’nishma) “I will faithfully do!”. Indeed, he cemented the covenant, his commitment to the people with his blood, his life, with his all.
Reflection and Discussion: 1. In spite of all the distractions around me, am I still inclined to listen to G-d? 2. Is my commitment to myself, my fellow, to G-d, conditional? 3. Look back, see where and what led you to cement to your present commitment (be this family, profession, vocation, mission, advocacy). What do you need to remain faithful to this “covenant”? Who do you need to be present around the “table” to re-bind your commitment? Bibliography: *Lieber, David, Chaim Potok, Harold Kushner, et. al. eds. Etz Hayim: Torah and Commentary. New York: The Jewish Publication Society, 2001.
This week’s Sunday Commentary was prepared by
Kristine Meneses, Ph.D.; Bat Kol Alumna 2016
Email address: email@example.com
[Copyright © 2018]
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