Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Devotion for today: as you give your life away: Sing!

Scripture for meditation: Mark 14:22-26
While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take it, this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many. Amen, I say to you, I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” Then, after singing a hymn, they went out to Mount of Olives.

Scripture for reflection: Exodus 24:7-8
Taking the book of the covenant, he read it aloud to the people, who answered, “All that the Lord has said, we will heed and do.” Then he took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words of his.”

Fr. Robert Barron tells us: A…peculiar detail in Mark’s account concerns the Last Supper and its immediate aftermath. Jesus has gathered with his intimate friends on the night before his death. He knows that the next day he shall be tortured and publicly executed. In the course of the supper, Jesus identifies himself so radically with the Passover bread and wine that they are now properly called his body and his blood. Like broken bread, the Lord says, his body will be given away in love; and like spilled wine, his blood will be poured out on behalf of many. The sadness and portentousness in that room must have been unbearable, much like the mood in the prison cell where a condemned man sits with his family while he awaits his execution. How does this terrible gathering come to a close? They sing!.... Can you imagine a condemned criminal blithely singing on the eve of his execution? Wouldn’t there be something odd, even macabre, about such a display? But Jesus knows – and his church knows with him – that this joyful outburst, precisely at that awful time, is altogether appropriate. This is not to deny for a moment the terror of that night nor the seriousness of what will follow the next day; but it is to acknowledge that an act of total love is the passage to fullness of life. Therefore, as you give your life away, Sing! Every Mass is a remembrance of that somber night: during the Eucharistic prayer, we explicitly recall what Jesus did “the night before he died.” But immediately after the consecration, as Christ in his sacrificial death becomes really present to us, we sing an acclamation of praise. The strange juxtaposition of terror and exuberant joy mimics the dynamics of the Last Supper (Word on Fire, Fr. Robert Barron, Crossroad Publishing Co., 2008).

Prayer before Communion:
I come to You, O Lord, so that things may be well with me through Your gift, and that I may rejoice at the holy feast You have made ready for me through Your great goodness. In You is all that I may or should desire, for You are my salvation and my redemption, my hope, my strength, my honor and glory. Make me, Your servant, today merry and glad in You, for I have lifted my soul to You. Now I desire devoutly and reverently to receive You into my house…. My soul desires to receive Your Body, my heart desires to be made one with You. Come to me, Lord, and it is sufficient, for without You there is not comfort. Without You, I cannot be; without Your visitation, I cannot live (The Imitation of Christ, St. Thomas a Kempis, 1955).

My thoughts: Today we end the season of Lent, as tomorrow we enter the high holy days of the Triduum. We have studied people of the passion, we have entered into redemptive suffering and have meditated on the seven last words of Christ. We have increased our prayers, our fasting and our suffering or almsgiving. Today we take one last look at the joy of Christ, at His ability to sing in the face of great personal suffering and humiliation. To have such faith in His Father, to be so dedicated to the purpose of His mission, that He could sing when “His hour had come” is truly a great gift to us. Many times in our lives we will face persecution for doing the right thing, but we need not fear. Armed with the example of Christ, and the gifts He gave us of His body and blood, we have the strength and nourishment we need to face any adversity the world may hurl at us. Times are tough, but quite frankly, so are we. Let us receive Holy Communion often, with a pure and contrite heart, and let us sing!

Our prayer to God: How Great Thou Art, Lyrics ~ Carl Boberg, 1859 - 1940 English Translation ~ Stuart K. Hine, 1899 - 1989
Stanza 3:
And when I think,
That God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die,
I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross,
My burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died
To take away my sin.

Then sings my soul,
My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art!
How great Thou art!
Then sings my soul,
My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art!
How great Thou art!

Stanza 4:

When Christ shall come,
With shouts of acclamation,
And take me home,
What joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow
In humble adoration
And there proclaim,
"My God, how great Thou art!"


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