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Body and Blood of Christ, June 2, 2013 (Genesis 14:18-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; Luke 9:11b-17) The scene in Genesis

of Melchizedek, king and priest of Salem (an early name for Jerusalem), bringing out bread and wine to Abram was because of Abrams victory over a common foe, which impressed Melchizedek greatly. Melchizedek was a mysterious figure who returns in Psalm 110:4 (Sundays responsorial psalm) as the first in a line of priest/kings. The psalm applies this dual role to David (or one of his successors) at an enthronement ceremony or commemoration of the enthronement as king. Because the priesthood in some historical representations was to descend from Aaron and the tribe of Levi, this dual role of priest/king was probably limited to the early years of the monarchy (Saul, David and probably Solomon). The actual historical development of the priesthood is quite muddled and it seems that it was not until the close of the seventh century BC that the priesthood was finally limited to the tribe of Levi. This brings us back to Melchizedek who was both priest and king during a period of time, centuries before David. He blesses Abram in the name of El Elyon, (God Most High). A few verses later Abram will swear to YHWH El Elyon (the Lord God Most High). The Hebrew author loved to apply these various titles for God used by non Israelites to the Lord, knowing that the Lord incorporated all of them in the one divine reality. The author did so without embarrassment. The choice of the Genesis reading for todays feast is clearly because of the mention of bread and wine which became the elements of the Eucharist in Christian history. Paul says he received from the Lord what he in turn handed on. That could mean either what he received by direct revelation or received from the tradition that was handed on to him. The formula is similar to other institution

narratives: He took bread, gave thanks, broke and said. He did the same with the cup. We do not think of bread or wine when we eat and drink in the Eucharist. Rather we remember Jesus in the Hebrew sense of making the past event in all of its power. We use bread and wine, but the reality is Christs body and his blood. Thus he always remains present with the Church in Word and Sacrament. In doing so, we proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes. This brings us full cycle back to the Paschal mystery: his death, resurrection and ascension, all of which is contained in the mystery that we proclaim. The Gospel reflects the formula that has been handed down, which the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) have used to indicate the Eucharistic nature of the feeding of the five thousand. Here again we see the formula of taking bread, blessing it, breaking it and giving to them to set before them. The Gospel accounts clearly intend for us to think of that feeding as either flowing from the Eucharist or leading to it or both. The body and blood of the Lord is not just a participation in a divine feeding but a reminder that we must feed others, even as we have been fed. We are always reminded of the need for putting to work the good things we receive in the Eucharist. The feast is the Body and Blood of Christ. It never ceases to amaze how people will show great piety in receiving the Body of Christ but have near contempt for the cup as though it contains something other than what it is, the blood of Christ. Equal reverence is due to the Body and Blood. Fr. Lawrence Hummer