June 2, Body and Blood of Christ, Memorials: a Sunday Scriptures blog

Perhaps you have had a chance to see a number of memorials, such as Holocaust memorials, Gettysburg, the 9/11 memorial or Pearl Harbor. Memorials use powerful symbols and narratives and even physical space to create a “you were there” experience. I remember the Pearl Harbor memorial. It ends with taking a viewing group in silence out to the sunken battleship USS Arizona. The ship is visible in the waters beneath the memorial, and 1,177 crewmen are entombed in it. Poignantly, every so often a couple of oil bubbles rise to the surface even today. Entering a memorial binds us to one another, and also to the people whose lives are commemorated by the memorial. This Sunday we read (from Exodus) how Moses used blood, sprinkled first on the altar and then on the people, to memorialize the covenant between God and the Israelites. In our Gospel today, we hear how Jesus establishes a new covenant with his disciples, using bread and wine. In the days following Pentecost, Jesus’ disciples and their converts began gathering weekly on Sunday to pray together. Being all Jews, they used prayers and readings from Hebrew Scripture, added remembrances of the words and actions of Jesus, and shared the blessing of bread and wine in memory of Him. It is this memorial action that eventually became the Mass as we know it, which has inspired and carried our Catholic faith through the centuries until today. If you are like me, a frequent Mass attendee, the familiar order of the Mass can become routine, taken  for granted. Perhaps pause today to recapture the experience of “being there” as the powerful covenant between God and humans is reaffirmed at our Sunday celebration.

— Blog entry by Sister Mary Garascia

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