On the night he was betrayed our Lord Jesus Christ took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples and said: “Take, eat: this is my body.” He took the cup, gave thanks and said: “Take, drink: this is my blood.” Since Christ himself has declared the bread to be his body, who can have any further doubt? Since he himself has said quite categorically, This is my blood, who would dare to question it and say that it is not his blood?
Therefore, it is with complete assurance that we receive the bread and wine as the body and blood of Christ. His body is given to us under the symbol of bread, and his blood is given to us under the symbol of wine, in order to make us by receiving them one body and blood with him. Having his body and blood in our members, we become bearers of Christ and sharers, as Saint Peter says, in the divine nature.
Once, when speaking to the Jews, Christ said: Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you shall have no life in you. This horrified them and they left him. Not understanding his words in a spiritual way, they thought the Saviour wished them to practise cannibalism.
Under the old covenant there was showbread, but it came to an end with the old dispensation to which it belonged. Under the new covenant there is bread from heaven and the cup of salvation. These sanctify both soul and body, the bread being adapted to the sanctification of the body, the Word, to the sanctification of the soul.
Do not, then, regard the eucharistic elements as ordinary bread and wine: they are in fact the body and blood of the Lord, as he himself has declared. Whatever your senses may tell you, be strong in faith.
You have been taught and you are firmly convinced that what looks and tastes like bread and wine is not bread and wine but the body and the blood of Christ. You know also how David referred to this long ago when he sang: Bread gives strength to man’s heart and makes his face shine with the oil of gladness. Strengthen your heart, then, by receiving this bread as spiritual bread, and bring joy to the face of your soul.
May purity of conscience remove the veil from the face of your soul so that by contemplating the glory of the Lord, as in a mirror, you may be transformed from glory to glory in Christ Jesus our Lord. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
What is most peculiar about Easter is that although the followers of Jesus had heard him say he would break the bonds of death, when he actually did, no-one believed it …. The followers were not expecting a Resurrection and, therefore, did not imagine they saw something of which they were ardently hoping. Even Mary Magdalene, who within that very week had seen been told about the Resurrection when she saw her own brother raised to life from the grave, did not believe it. She came on Sunday morning to the tomb with spices to anoint the body—not to greet a Risen Saviour. On the way, the question of the women was: ‘Who will roll back the stone?’ Their problem was how they could get in; not whether the Saviour would get out.Fulton Sheen The Way to Inner Peace
Gratitude is characteristic only of the humble. The egotistic are so impressed by their own importance that they take everything given them as if it were their due. They have no room in their hearts for recollection of the undeserved favours they have received.
Fulton Sheen On Being Human 1982: 325
In this evening’s second lesson we are given the parable of Lazarus and Dives. Jesus has been in the company of Pharisees, members of a religious elite, figures of authority, who have been described as ‘lovers of money’. It’s always slightly uncomfortable when clergy are faced with Our Lord’s views on religious authorities. His audience are selfish, avaricious, self-satisfied, and arrogant: we need to be careful that the Church never becomes like this.
The parable the has at its heart the important message that charity and generosity are at the heart of our faith. We see this charity and generosity above all in Our Lord’s life, his preaching, his healing, his miracles, his passion, and death. They act as a paradigm, an example for us to follow. We need to live our lives so that they look like his.
The rich man is singularly unable to do this. Even when he is in Hades he wants Lazarus to come and cool his tongue, and to go and warn his brothers: even now he’s still treating Lazarus like a servant – giving him orders, making him work for him, even in death he is still arrogant, and self-absorbed, he needs to learn humility, to know his need of God.
Quite rightly Jesus can say that the Rich Man’s brothers have the Law & the Prophets: as we know from our 1928 Prayerbooks that we hace Jesus’ own summary:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your mind, and all your soul, and with all your strength, and your neighbour as yourself – on these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.
It’s all about faith & action: putting it into practice in our lives, it’s exactly what Jesus is doing in Holy Week, in his passion and death, showing us how much God loves us and the lengths to which he will go to heal and restore humanity – for love of us, each of us, you and me.
How do we respond to this other than living it out in our lives: living out the same costly self-giving sacrificial love in our lives, so that we can be like Jesus, fed by him in Word and Sacrament, becoming ever more like Him. The world around us may not believe, it’s too selfish, too self-absorbed, to be like Jesus. The cost is too great, and yet it is what our faith is all about. Following Jesus means being like Him, doing what he did, and how he did it, so that we may be more and more conformed to him, living out our faith and drawing others to him so that the world may believe and give glory to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit …