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Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, Year A, June 19 or June 22, 2014
Lectionary index # 376

Churches may celebrate the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ on Thursday or Sunday, depending on their location. For Lector's Notes about the readings for the Twelfth Sunday of the Year, click here.

Twenty-second digests for the congregation: Arrange with your liturgy committee to have these brief historical introductions read to the assembly before you do each reading.

Who should announce these before the first and second readings, and before the gospel acclamation? They're not Scripture, nor homiletic, so they shouldn't be delivered from the ambo. They're a modest teaching. So let the presider say them from the chair. Let the lector turn toward the presider and listen.
Print this page, cut it at the blue lines, and give the introduction paragraphs to the person who will speak them.

Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, Year A, June 19 or June 22, 2014
Before the first reading:

Exiled in Babylon, the Jews needed to remember how God took care of their ancestors in equally difficult times. So the Book of Deuteronomy reminds them of the ancient Exodus, and a new kind of food that God provided.
After the psalm, before the second reading:

In a divided community of competitive people, Saint Paul insists that the Lord's Supper is a sign of unity.
Before the gospel acclamation:

Saint John again teaches how Jesus gives a gift that exceeds what God has given to the People in the past.

To pay for use of the words above, please subtract an equal number of optional words from other places in the liturgy (click here for some suggestions).

First reading, Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14b-16a [Jerusalem Bible translation]

The Historical Situation: Moses led the Hebrew slaves out of Egypt. For forty years they wandered the desert regions of Sinai. The setting of this reading is near the end of that journey, when the people are at last getting comfortable in their long-promised new homeland. Moses realizes that the sudden change from hardship to comfort and security may dull the people, and make them forgetful of the Lord on whom they are to depend. So he tells them "Remember," and "Do not forget ..."

The manna to which Moses refers was a kind of food that the Lord had miraculously provided to the hungry pilgrims many years earlier (see Exodus, chapter 16). Not only were the people fed by the manna, they were taught by the experience of receiving it. Whether they tried to gather too much or too little of the food, they had just enough. They were instructed to gather only a day's worth, and trust that the Lord would provide the next day's supply in due time; those who tried to amass a long-term supply found it spoiled promptly.

The Theological Background: The church chooses this reading for today because we see in the manna a prototype of the Eucharist, of course. But we never read directly from the manna narrative in Exodus 16 on the feast of Corpus Christi. Rather we're enjoined not to forget, and to remember. That's what we do when we celebrate the Eucharist. We remember Jesus' self-gift at the last supper and on the cross. God has endowed this act of remembering with the sacramental power to make the remembered events present to us again.

Proclaiming It: So when you read this to the assembly, make it memorable. That is, read it slowly, as if you are the aged Moses, giving one last instruction, summing up what God has made of this people through their journey.

Second Reading, 1 Corinthians 10:16-17 [Jerusalem Bible translation]

The Historical Situation: Most of Saint Paul's letters contain early chapters where he discusses doctrinal issues and settles disputes. Then there follow some paragraphs or chapters about discipline within the community. The Corinithian Christians were pretty rowdy, and needed some lessons about manners at the celebration of the Lord's supper. Paul is also clearly distinguishing the Eucharist from the ritual meals of some pagan groups known to the Corinthians. And he's connecting the sharing of Christ's body with the notion that the church is a body; its head is Christ and we are its members. All of that is packed into these few lines.

Proclaiming It: This short reading calls for a slow and deliberate proclamation, especially in the phrase We, though many, are one body.

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Several other commentaries on these passages. All are thoughtful, all quite readable, from the scholarly to the popular.
Links may be incomplete more than a few weeks before the "due date."
Bible Study pages of Saint Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, Picayune, Mississippi
Has a short, interesting history of the feast.
Father Roger Karban of Belleville, Illinois, USA, writes a newspaper column about every Sunday's readings. Here are his essays for today's passages, from: courtesy of The Evangelist, official publication of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York, or of The Belleville Messenger, of the Diocese of Belleville.

Read all of Father Karban's recent columns here, at the site of FOSIL, the Faithful of Southern Illinois.

Archived 2002 column of Father Francis X. Cleary, S.J. (Log in using 0026437 and 63137.)
The Text This Week; links to homilies, art works, movies and other resources on the week's scripture themes Saint Louis University's excellent new liturgy site

Most welcome here are Reginald Fuller's commentaries.

(Caveat lector. As of May 2, 2014, Lector's Notes' author is speculating about the exact URL of SLU's offering, since it's not yet posted. If you get a 404 Not Found, try here).

The Lectionary selections in the frame at the left, if any, are there for your convenience. The publishers of the page in that frame have no connection, except for membership in the one Body of Christ, with the publisher of this page. Likewise the publishers of the pages on the links above.

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Last modified: May 2, 2014