Month of the Precious Blood Eucharistic Readings (Days 16-21)
July 16, 2023
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.
Day 16
Jesus said to them, ‘You cannot make wedding-guests fast while the bridegroom is with them, can you? The days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.’ He also told them a parable: ‘No one tears a piece from a new garment and sews it on an old garment; otherwise the new will be torn, and the piece from the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine desires new wine, but says, “The old is good.” (Luke 5:34-39)
From Homily 56 On the Holy and Dread Mysteries of Christ by St. Gregory Palamas ( + 1359)
In order that we might be one with Christ not just in spirit but in body, flesh of His flesh and bone of His bones (cf. Gen, 2:23), He granted us union with Himself through his bread. Every love finds fulfillment through unity, and starts from likeness. The popular adage "Like attracts like” is an ancient one. The love associated with the married state seems somehow superior to other forms of love. “For this cause”, it says, “shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh” (Matt. 19:5). “This is a great mystery”, says the divine Paul, “but I speak concerning Christ and the Church” (Eph. 5:32). It says in that same passage that a man shall cleave and become one flesh, but not one spirit. We, by contrast, shall not only be joined to Christ’s body but mingled with it through partaking in this divine bread, and we shall not just become one body, but also one spirit. Do you see that the surpassing greatness of God’s love towards us comes about, and is manifested, through sharing this bread and this cup? For this reason “Burnt offering and sin offering hath he not required”, according to the Psalm, "But he hath prepared a body for us” (cf. Ps. 40:6 Lxx).
O how manifold and ineffable this communion! Christ became our brother, partaking of the same flesh and blood with us, and through them become like us. Through this blood He has redeemed us for Himself as true servants. He has made us His friends (cf. John 15:14-15) by bestowing upon us the revelation of these mysteries. Through the partaking of this blood He has bound and betrothed us to Himself as a bridegroom his bride, and become one flesh with us. But He has also become our Father through holy baptism in His name, and nourishes us with His own breasts as a loving mother feeds her babies. And what is even better and more wondrous still, He feeds us not only with blood instead of milk, but with His own body, and not only His body but also His Spirit. In so doing. He always preserves undiminished the nobility given to us by Him, leads us towards greater longing, and grants us to fulfill our desire, not only to see Him but also to touch Him, to delight in Him, to take Him into our hearts, and for each of us to hold Him in our inmost selves. Come, He says, those of you who have set your heart on eternal life, eat My body and drink My blood (cf. John 6:53), that you may not only be in God’s image, but, by clothing yourselves in Me, the King and God of heaven, you may be eternal and heavenly gods and kings, feared by demons, admired by angels, beloved sons of the celestial Father, living for ever, fairer than the children of men (cf. Ps. 45:2), a delightful dwelling place for the sublime Trinity.
Let us therefore mingle our blood with God's, in order to remove the corruption from our own, for in this blood there is great benefit past telling. It makes us new instead of old and eternal instead of temporary; it frees us from death and makes us like evergreen trees planted by the rivers of the water of the divine Spirit (cf. Ps. 1:3), from which is gathered fruit unto life eternal (John 4:36). A spring welled up from paradise (cf.Gen. 2:10), a natural one, which sent forth natural rivers and watered the face of the earth, while from this sacred table, which, according to the psalm, Christ prepared for us in the presence of His enemies (cf. Ps 23:5), the demons and passions, a spring wells up giving rise to spiritual fountains, letting souls drink and leading them up to heaven. It turns the angels' faces towards its beauty, and in it is discerned the manifold wisdom of God (Eph. 3:10), causing them to desire to look into (1 Pet. 1:12) the gifts bestowed upon us through this blood. When we approach these mysteries we become a royal purple robe or, rather, the blood and body of the King and – O marvelous wonder! – we are transformed to receive divine sonship, as God’s radiance comes upon us in secret, shines round about us in an extraordinary way, makes us God’s anointed ones, and gives us power, according to the promise, to shine as the sun in the presence of the Father (cf. Matt. 13:43), provided only that no stain lingering in the soul of the person drawing near stands in the way.
For this reason not only should we cleanse ourselves before we approach, but also, after receiving this divine gift, we should pay heed to ourselves and be very much on our guard, that we might stay aloof from the passion and proclaim the virtues of Him who has graciously deigned to dwell in us on account of the likeness to Him in virtues which has come to light within us. Let us consider with whom we have been united and what blessings we have been vouchsafed and, amazed at the surpassing greatness of God’s gift and of His love for us, let us order our actions, words and thoughts according to “the good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God” (Rom. 12:2) For this is the blood of the New Testament (Matt, 26:28), which establishes that new covenant, namely, that gospel of Christ. “For a testament”, it says, “is of force after men are dead” (Heb. 9:17). When we partake of the blood of Christ's covenant, let us not make it uncertain through our works, lest we suffer judgment and eternal punishment, having counted the blood of the covenant an unholy thing, with which we were sanctified (cf. Heb. 10:29). Just as there is a great promise for those who keep the hallowing that comes from communion (for they are promised the kingdom of God) so there is also a severe punishment for those who make themselves useless after receiving the gift (cf. Heb. 10:29). For if, it says, “He that despised Moses' law died without mercy according to the law: of how much sorer punishment shall he be thought worthy, who hath counted the blood of the covenant an unholy thing, and hath done, despite unto the Spirit of grace?” (cf. Heb. 10:28-29)
These things are taught us by the crucified body of Christ set before us as food. For at the same time as being nourished by Him, we are also taught to share in His virtues and His sufferings, that we may live and reign with Him for ever. He announced this beforehand through the prophet David, saying, “The sacrifice of praise will glorify me, and there I shall show him the way of my salvation” (cf. Ps. 50:23 Lxx). The service we perform in remembrance of what He has done for us is a sacrifice of thanksgiving, honor and praise to Him. And as the body and blood of Christ is truly set before us, and speaks to God the Father in a much more excellent manner than did the blood of Abel – for Abel’s blood cried to God against his bother (Gen. 4:10), whereas the blood of Christ speaks on behalf of us, whose brother Christ deigned to become, propitiating God for us and reconciling us to the Father on high – and this blood also speaks to us, clearly showing us the way of love, because He, for love of us, emptied Himself until He was like us, laid down His life for us and taught us the way of humility, because “In his humiliation his judgment was taken away; and he led as a sheep to the slaughter” (Acts 8:32-33, cf. Isa. 53:7-8). He taught us the way to obedience, for He too obeyed the Father unto the Cross and death (Phil. 2:8), and the way which bestows eternal life upon us through putting the passions to death.

O Lord, the blood of your Son, our brother, cries out to you from the earth. 
– Blessed the earth that drank in the blood of the Redeemer. 
The blood he shed is more eloquent than the blood of Abel. 
– Blessed the earth that drank in the blood of the Redeemer.
God our Father,
life of the faithful,
glory of the humble,
happiness of the just,
hear our prayer.
Fill our emptiness
with the blessing of the eucharist,
the foretaste of eternal joy.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.  Amen. (Liturgy of the Hours)
Day 17
[Jesus said]: ‘To what then will I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children sitting in the market-place and calling to one another,
“We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
   we wailed, and you did not weep.” 
For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, “He has a demon”; the Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, “Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax-collectors and sinners!” Nevertheless, wisdom is vindicated by all her children.’ (Luke 7: 31-35)
From the encyclical letter Laudato si’ by Pope Francis
It is in the Eucharist that all that has been created finds its greatest exaltation. Grace, which tends to manifest itself tangibly, found unsurpassable expression when God himself became man and gave himself as food for his creatures. The Lord, in the culmination of the mystery of the Incarnation, chose to reach our intimate depths through a fragment of matter. He comes not from above, but from within, he comes that we might find him in this world of ours. In the Eucharist, fullness is already achieved; it is the living centre of the universe, the overflowing core of love and of inexhaustible life. Joined to the incarnate Son, present in the Eucharist, the whole cosmos gives thanks to God. Indeed the Eucharist is itself an act of cosmic love: “Yes, cosmic! Because even when it is celebrated on the humble altar of a country church, the Eucharist is always in some way celebrated on the altar of the world”. The Eucharist joins heaven and earth; it embraces and penetrates all creation. The world which came forth from God’s hands returns to him in blessed and undivided adoration: in the bread of the Eucharist, “creation is projected towards divinization, towards the holy wedding feast, towards unification with the Creator himself ”.Thus, the Eucharist is also a source of light and motivation for our concerns for the environment, directing us to be stewards of all creation.
R/. The grace of the Lord, triumphing over death and treading the cunning serpent with his deceit, has overcome the enemy. *In order to free those who were held in torment. V. Through the tide of His blood, which the wicked had drained, hell has disgorged the prey it had engulfed.  R/.  In order to free…


O God,
through the paschal mystery of your only-begotten Son
you accomplished the work of our redemption;
grant that we who proclaim in sacramental signs
the death and resurrection of Christ
may experience ever more fully your gift of salvation.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever. Amen. (ICEL; 1998; Votive Mass of the Holy Eucharist)
Day 18
After Jesus had left that place, he passed along the Sea of Galilee, and he went up the mountain, where he sat down. Great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the maimed, the blind, the mute, and many others. They put them at his feet, and he cured them, so that the crowd was amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel. Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way.” The disciples said to him, “Where are we to get enough bread in the desert to feed so great a crowd?” Jesus asked them, “How many loaves have you?” They said, “Seven, and a few small fish.” Then ordering the crowd to sit down on the ground, he took the seven loaves and the fish; and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all of them ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. Those who had eaten were four thousand men, besides women and children. (Matthew 15: 29-38)
From the Paedagoogus of St. Clement of Alexandria (+ c. 215)
The blood of the Lord is twofold. The one is bodily blood, whereby we have been redeemed from ruin; the other is spiritual blood, whereby we have been anointed. And to drink of the blood of Jesus means no less than to share in the Lord’s incorruption. For it is the Spirit that gives vitality to the Word, just as blood conveys energy to the body. In the sacrament of Christ’s blood the Spirit of divine life, gushing from the Logos like the blood from His bodily heart, pours into our souls as the blood of divine life, to anoint them and to allay their thirst. In the Eucharist we draw the Savior’s own divine life, as it were, from His very side. If we can thus speak of a twofold blood of the God-man why should we not speak of a twofold flesh? Is not the flesh, the bodily veil and frame of Christ, likewise the sacrament of the radiant form of His divinity, which is reflected in the flesh? And is not our soul’s advancement furthered by the enlightenment and transfiguration imparted to it, as the body is perfected by the reception of Christ’s flesh? However, we are not accustomed to employ the word “flesh” in this higher sense, for in scriptural language it is ordinarily used to indicate whatever is opposed to the spiritual. But for that reason we can the more justifiably, in keeping with the sense of Scripture, refer to the divinity of the Logos as bread. Indeed, His divinity is truly the panis superessentialis (i.e. “super essential bread”) which is concealed under the substance of the body present in the Eucharist.
R/. The living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father. And whoever eats me lives because of me.  V/. The Lord fed him with the bread of life and understanding. R/. The living Father…
God of all grace,
your Son Jesus Christ fed the hungry
with the bread of his life
and the word of his kingdom:
renew your people with your heavenly grace,
and in all our weakness
sustain us by your true and living bread;
who is alive and reigns, now and for ever.  Amen. (Church of England)
Day 19
Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.” So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 6: 26-27, 30-35)


From the book Eucharist by Archbishop Roman Williams.  

Christ declares that the bread and wine, identified with his body and blood, are a sign of the world-changing events of Good Friday and Easter, and so a sign of the future, of God’s future and God’s promise. By identifying himself with the broken bread and the spilled wine, the broken flesh and the shed blood, Jesus says that this death which is approaching is a door into hope. And it is at that moment, when he is looking forward most clearly and vividly to his death, even before the Garden of Gethsemane casts its shadow, that Jesus gives thanks. That is, he connects his experience with the reality of God, because that is what thanksgiving does. When we say thank you to God we connect our own experience with God as Giver. We say that what has happened to us is somehow rooted in the gift of God. And when Jesus gives thanks at that moment before the breaking and spilling, before the wounds and the blood, it is as if he is connecting the darkest places of human experience with God the Giver; as if he is saying that even in these dark places God continues to give, and therefore we must continue to give thanks.  And that is why the Greek word Eucharist, “thanksgiving,” took root and became the earlier most widespread name for what Christians do when they meet for Holy Communion: they meet to give thanks, evening in the heart of the darkest experience.
So as we give thanks over bread and wine in the presence of the Lord we are - with him and in him - seeking to make that connection between the world and God, between human experience and the divine and eternal Giver. And that means that we begin to look differently at the world around us. If in every corner of experience God the Giver is still at work, then in every object we see and handle, in every situation we encounter, God the Giver is present and our reaction is shaped by this. That is why to take seriously what is going on in the Holy Eucharist is to take seriously the whole material order of the world. It is to see everything in some sense sacramentally. If Jesus gives thanks over bread and wine on the eve of his death, if Jesus makes that connection between the furthest place away from God, which is suffering and death, and the giving and outpouring of his Father, and if in his person he fuses those things together, then wherever we are some connection between us and God is possible. All places, all people, all things have about them an unexpected sacramental depth. They open on to God the Giver.
R/. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood remain in me and I in them. V/. No other nation is so great that its gods come near them as our God comes near to us. R/.  Those who eat… 
Lord God,
you have renewed us with the living bread from heaven;
by it you nourish our faith,
increase our hope,
and strengthen our love:
teach us always to hunger for him who is the true and living bread,
and enable us to live by every word
that proceeds from out of your mouth;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Church of England)
Day 20
[Jesus said] I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.  am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.” (John 6:48-58)
From a homily by St. Gaudentius of Brescia (+410)
The heavenly sacrifice which Christ instituted is truly the bequest of his new testament, a bequest which he left us as the pledge of his presence on the night he was handed over to be crucified. This is the food which sustains and nourishes us on our journey through life, until we depart from this world and are united with Christ. This is why the Lord said: ‘Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you will have no life in you.’ It was his will that his gifts should remain among us; it was his will that the souls which he redeemed should continue to be sanctified by sharing the pattern of his own passion. For this reason he appointed his faithful disciples the first priests of his Church and enjoined them never to cease to perform the mysteries of eternal life. These mysteries must be celebrated by every priest in every church in the world until Christ comes again from heaven, so that we priests, together with the congregation of the faithful, may have the example of Christ’s passion daily before our eyes, hold it in our hands, and even receive it in our mouths and in our hearts and so keep undimmed the memory of our redemption. . . .
Besides, since bread is made from many grains of wheat ground into flour, it is appropriate that we should receive the sacrament of Christ’s body in the form of bread.  For we know that Christ has become one body made up of the many members of the human race and brought to completion by the fire of the Holy Spirit. He was born of the Holy Spirit and since it was fitting for him to fulfill all righteousness, he entered the waters of baptism in order to consecrate them. Then, full of the Holy Spirit, who had come down on him in the likeness of a dove, he returned from the Jordan, as St. Luke tells us: ‘And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan.’ So too the wine of his blood is made from many grapes, the fruit of the vineyard he planted himself, which are gathered and pressed in the wine press of the cross; by its own energy the wine ferments in those who, with faithful hearts, receive him like capacious jars. Escape, all of you, from the domination of Egypt and Pharaoh, I mean the devil, and join us in receiving this sacrifice of the saving Pasch, with all the eagerness of a religious heart, so that the Lord Jesus Christ himself, whom we believe to be present in his sacraments, may sanctify our inmost hearts. For the power of this sacrifice is beyond worth, and endures forever.
I am the bread of life.
Your forefathers ate manna in the desert,
and they died.
– This is the bread that comes down from heaven;
anyone who eats this bread will never die.
I am the living bread come down from heaven.
Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever.
– This is the bread that comes down from heaven;
anyone who eats this bread will never die.
God of glory,
you nourish us with your Word
who is the bread of life:
fill us with your Holy Spirit
that through us the light of your glory
may shine in all the world.
We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Church of England)
Day 21
While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you,  for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.  I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (Matthew 26: 26-29)


From the Commentary on Matthew by St. Hilary of Poitiers (+368)

How are we to interpret the saying of Christ in St. Matthew: I will not drink from henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I shall drink with you new in the kingdom of my Father. Some construe the fable of the millennium from this verse; according to this, Christ would reign corporally in the millennium, and would then drink of the wine which from that time on (the time of the Supper) , He will not drink until the consummation of the world. But we should know that the bread which the Lord broke and gave to the disciples, is the Body of the Lord our Savior, for He said to them: Take ye and eat: this is my body. And the chalice is that of which He likewise said: Drink ye all of this, for this is my blood of the new testament...which shall be shed for many. ....If then the bread which comes down from heaven is the Body of the Lord, and the wine which He gave to His disciples is the Blood of the New Testament, which was shed for many unto the remission of sins, let us cast aside Jewish fables, let us go up with the Lord into the large guest chamber furnished and swept, and there let us receive from Him the chalice of the new testament; and there celebrating the Pasch with Him, LET US BE INEBRIATED BY HIM WITH THE WINE OF SOBRIETY: for the kingdom of God is not food and drink, but justice and joy and peace in the Holy Spirit; For Moses did not give us true bread but the Lord Jesus, Himself both table companion and banquet, who eats with us and is eaten by us. WE DRINK OF HIS BLOOD, AND WITHOUT HIM WE. CANNOT DRINK, and every day in His sacrifice, we tread the blood-red grapes from the fruit of the true vine, and from them we drink the new wine of the kingdom of the Father. ....The patriarch Jacob also desired to eat this bread, saying: If the Lord shall be with me and shall give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on; for as many of us as are baptized in Christ, put on Christ and eat the bread of angels, and hear God saying: My food is to do the will of him that sent me, that I may do his work. LET US THEREFORE DO THE WILL OF THE FATHER WHO SENT US, THAT WE MAY DO HIS WORK; AND CHRIST WILL DRINK HIS BLOOD WITH US IN THE KINGDOM OF HIS CHURCH.

And while they were at supper, Jesus, taking a cup, gave thanks and gave it to them, saying, “All of you drink of this.”  -- “For this is my blood of the new covenant.” 
Which is being shed for many for the forgiveness of sins.
 – “For this is my blood of the new covenant.”
O God,
in the fullness of time you revealed your love
in Jesus the Lord.
On the eve of his death,
as a sign of your covenant,
he washed the feet of his disciples
and gave himself as food and drink.
Give us life at this sacred banquet
and joy in humble service,
that, bound to Christ in all things,
we may pass over from this world to your kingdom,
where he lives with you now and always in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever. Amen. (Holy Thursday)