The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ- Sister Maureen Lomax, SNDdeN

May 29, 2024 | Gospel Reflections

June 2, 2024

Mark 14: 12-16, 22-26

Sharing the Passover seems to be taken for granted by Jesus’ disciples. But on this occasion nothing appears to be planned by them. When they ask Jesus what to do, he has clearly made arrangements and gives them precise instructions. However the idea of going into the city of Jerusalem and looking for a man carrying a pitcher of water must have been puzzling ….only women carried water pitchers! However the rarity of this would have made the man easy to spot. There is no suggestion that the disciples questioned the instructions Jesus gave. Jesus generates a authority, not just to his disciples but also to those who have arranged a furnished room for ‘The Master’ and his disciples. The foresight of Jesus, amidst the fears and tensions that must have been experienced by the disciples, may have helped to allay the growing dread at the growing antagonism towards Jesus and his followers. Perhaps the disciples felt more comfortable once they arrived at the upper room and found everything as Jesus had told them. This evening, like many Passovers celebrated before, would have felt familiar, religiously affirming and perhaps familial. After all, at so many shared meals Jesus had taught them about himself. They knew that the Jewish Passover was a memorial of the freeing of the Jewish people from slavery and the establishment of a new covenant with God. Jesus had made it clear that he was the sacrificial lamb that would seal this new relationship with God. Every Jewish Passover meal included bread and wine so nothing unusual there! But Jesus does and says something different. The words so well-known to us, as Jesus took the bread and broke it “Take it, this is my body” must have surprised them somewhat. Jesus is not following the expected script.

On this occasion we are not told of any hesitation in belief. (It is in John 6 that we are told that many could not accept that Jesus claimed to be ‘the bread of life’ and they ceased to follow Jesus.) Then as Jesus raises the cup of wine he re-asserts that his blood (the wine) is ‘the blood of the covenant….poured out for many’. His death, the shedding of his blood, is to come very soon. His words are formal statements (theological?) which must have been difficult to understand fully. It could not have been a very cheerful meal because Judas is revealed as a traitor, some of the disciples seem somewhat self-centred when they are more concerned about themselves ‘Is it I, Lord?’ (Mk 14:117-20 left out of the gospel reading) and not the fate of Jesus, and after singing psalms, Peter is warned of his threefold betrayal (Mk 14:29-31 that follows). Then they go to Gethsemane and some of them fall asleep! Not exactly supportive of Jesus.

By the time Mark’s gospel was written, the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11:24) was an established ritual within the early church – observed as a Christian, not a Jewish rite. The focus became Jesus rather than the Exodus, although the Passover emphasis on thanking God for past and future blessings was retained. Christian denominations interpret the Eucharistic words differently. Catholics believe ‘that the bread and wine, when consecrated, becomes the body and blood of Christ, even though they maintain the appearance of bread and wine – transubstantiation’. ‘Other Christians use different terminology but all agree that Jesus transformed the meaning of the bread and wine so that they point to Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross rather than the Exodus experience. And we all agree that Jesus is present with us in some form in the Eucharist.’ (Richard Niell Donovan- Sermon Writer) Of all the meals that Jesus shared with his disciples, this one stayed in their memory because it was their last supper together. At this meal Jesus shared more than his vision, he shared himself. He had never done that before. Jesus gave himself as food and drink, through the disciples, to all humanity. The last supper anticipated the gift of himself on the cross the next day. ‘Every time we gather to celebrate the Eucharist, we find ourselves once more in that highly charged upper room. The last supper must have had a tremendously unifying effect on the disciples…they belonged not only to him but to each other.’(frmartinshomiliesandreflections)

It is in Christ that we are one body which was given for all. We need to look beyond the community of disciples, beyond our own local community and our church to the whole of humanity: ’Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation’(Mk 16:16). Reflections: 1. ‘The Word was made flesh and dwelt (pitched his tent) among us’ ( Jn 1:14) and remains present to us in the Eucharist. We become the Body of Christ. 2. Pope Francis: ‘The Eucharist is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak). 3. Jesus said ‘Do this in memory of me’. What practical aspects of my life flow from the Eucharistic themes of ‘thanksgiving’, ‘self-giving’, Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. Mark 14:12-16; 22-26 June 2024 Sharing the Passover seems to be taken for granted by Jesus’s disciples. But on this occasion nothing appears to be planned by them. When they ask Jesus what to do, he has clearly made arrangements and gives them precise instructions. However the idea of going into the city of Jerusalem and looking for a man carrying a pitcher of water must have been puzzling….only women carried water pitchers! However the rarity of this would have made the man easy to spot. There is no suggestion that the disciples questioned the instructions Jesus gave. Jesus generates a authority, not just to his disciples but also to those who have arranged a furnished room for ‘The Master’ and his disciples. The foresight of Jesus, amidst the fears and tensions that must have been experienced by the disciples, may have helped to allay the growing dread at the growing antagonism towards Jesus and his followers. Perhaps the disciples felt more comfortable once they arrived at the upper room and found everything as Jesus had told them.

This evening, like many Passovers celebrated before, would have felt familiar, religiously affirming and perhaps familial. After all, at so many shared meals Jesus had taught them about himself. They knew that the Jewish Passover was a memorial of the freeing of the Jewish people from slavery and the establishment of a new covenant with God. Jesus had made it clear that he was the sacrificial lamb that would seal this new relationship with God. Every Jewish Passover meal included bread and wine so nothing unusual there! But Jesus does and says something different. The words so well-known to us, as Jesus took the bread and broke it “Take it, this is my body” must have surprised them somewhat. Jesus is not following the expected script. On this occasion we are not told of any hesitation in belief. (It is in John 6 that we are told that many could not accept that Jesus claimed to be ‘the bread of life’ and they ceased to follow Jesus.) Then as Jesus raises the cup of wine he re-asserts that his blood (the wine) is ‘the blood of the covenant….poured out for many’. His death, the shedding of his blood, is to come very soon. His words are formal statements (theological?) which must have been difficult to understand fully. It could not have been a very cheerful meal because Judas is revealed as a traitor, some of the disciples seem somewhat self-centred when they are more concerned about themselves ‘Is it I, Lord?’ (Mk 14:117-20 left out of the gospel reading) and not the fate of Jesus, and after singing psalms, Peter is warned of his threefold betrayal (Mk 14:29-31 that follows). Then they go to Gethsemane and some of them fall asleep! Not exactly supportive of Jesus.

By the time Mark’s gospel was written, the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11:24) was an established ritual within the early church – observed as a Christian, not a Jewish rite. The focus became Jesus rather than the Exodus, although the Passover emphasis on thanking God for past and future blessings was retained. Christian denominations interpret the Eucharistic words differently. Catholics believe ‘that the bread and wine, when consecrated, becomes the body and blood of Christ, even though they maintain the appearance of bread and wine – transubstantiation’. ‘Other Christians use different terminology but all agree that Jesus transformed the meaning of the bread and wine so that they point to Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross rather than the Exodus experience. And we all agree that Jesus is present with us in some form in the Eucharist.’ (Richard Niell Donovan- Sermon Writer) Of all the meals that Jesus shared with his disciples, this one stayed in their memory because it was their last supper together. At this meal Jesus shared more than his vision, he shared himself. He had never done that before. Jesus gave himself as food and drink, through the disciples, to all humanity. The last supper anticipated the gift of himself on the cross the next day. ‘Every time we gather to celebrate the Eucharist, we find ourselves once more in that highly charged upper room. The last supper must have had a tremendously unifying effect on the disciples…they belonged not only to him but to each other.’(frmartinshomiliesandreflections) It is in Christ that we are one body which was given for all. We need to look beyond the community of disciples, beyond our own local community and our church to the whole of humanity: ’Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation’(Mk 16:16). Reflections: 1. ‘The Word was made flesh and dwelt (pitched his tent) among us’ ( Jn 1:14) and remains present to us in the Eucharist. We become the Body of Christ. 2. Pope Francis: ‘The Eucharist is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak). 3. Jesus said ‘Do this in memory of me’. What practical aspects of my life flow from the Eucharistic themes of ‘thanksgiving’, ‘self-giving’, ‘breaking of bread’, ‘communion with others’, etc.?

Mark 14: 12-16, 22-26

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples said to him, “Where do you want us to go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” He sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city and a man will meet you, carrying a jar of water. Follow him. Wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?”‘ Then he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready. Make the preparations for us there.” The disciples then went off, entered the city, and found it just as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover.

While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, 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 the Mount of Olives.

The Gospel of the Lord

 

Meet Sister Maureen Lomax, SNDdeN

Maureen Lomax was born in Lancashire, England, on September 1st 1942, the third living child of four, two girls and two boys. Like most families who raised children during the Second World War, her family coped with food rationing, second-hand clothes/furniture, running into the bomb shelter at night during air raids, borrowing and lending sugar/tea/etc., and father away in the Army. Although everything was in short supply, and everyone was encouraged not to waste anything, her mother managed to feed the children, clothe them and see that they were well educated. The children all passed the scholarship and so could attend a Grammar or Technical School from the age of eleven onwards without having to pay school fees. They were very fortunate. That was when Maureen first met the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. From 1953 (the year all war rationing ended), she attended Notre Dame High School in St Helens, Merseyside. She entered the Ashdown Novitiate in 1959, made first vows in 1962 and final vows in 1967. Meanwhile, Sr. Maureen trained as a secondary teacher of English, Music and Religious Education, attending Notre Dame College of Education, Liverpool. She did a degree in Philosophy/Religious Studies at Leeds University in 1974. Over the years she taught mainly in non-selective secondary schools, teaching English, Religious Education, Music, Special Needs and some general subjects to boys and girls from 11 to 18 years of age. Sr. Maureen has worked in various parts of England: Wigan and St Helens in the North West, Norwich in East Anglia, Upminster in East London and Plymouth, Devon, in the South West. Unfortunately, just before she retired from the headship of Notre Dame RC School in Plymouth in 2002, she suffered a High Blood Pressure haemorrhage in her left eye which caused blindness. After her retirement, Sr. Maureen had time to recover her health and then had the privilege of visiting our Sisters in Nicaragua (2007), Peru and California (2008) and Zimbabwe (2009). In each place, she was able to give some practical help and also learn first-hand about the customs and conditions in which people survive. She has always had an interest in the work of our Sisters in these vulnerable parts of the world, and had a lot of theoretical knowledge about them, but being there and meeting the people still remains for her a living memory. Since then, Sr. Maureen has been involved in helping and supporting asylum seekers in Barnsley, North Yorkshire, together with a small Parish Group. She became Chair of Governors at a Roman Catholic and Anglican Secondary School and was able to use her recent experience of school leadership for the benefit of a school in difficulties. As a sideline, she planned and provided music for a parish together with a small group. In addition, work with Asylum Seekers was on-going within the Barnsley community which was ecumenical. Sr. Maureen served in Rome as General Secretary of the Sisters of Notre Dame from 2010 through 2013. After that she ministered in Britain as a Coordinator for our Sisters in a Notre Dame Health Care facility. In March 2017 she was ableto take a break from ‘responsibilities’ and moved to Birkdale in the north of England. Apart from playing the organ for community Masses, continuing being a School Governor~ at our Notre Dame College in Liverpool, visiting family and friends and doing little jobs in the house, she enjoyed some respite. From 2018-2020, London became her home when she assisted as a School Chaplain at Notre Dame Secondary School for Girls. Then Covid-19 struck and schools closed in March 2020. Sat that time she became aware that her niece in Derbyshire needed support in the care of her parents. For almost three years she was privileged to share the care of her sister in law who died in May 2021 and her elder brother until he died on 25th January 2023. Just before Easter 2023 she was able to move to Liverpool joining our Childwall Community where she has been able to enjoy the company of our Sisters and the assistance of caring staff.