Sunday, June 6, 2010

Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ - Companions of the Cross Ordination Photos - Regina Centennial

Today marks the 55th anniversary of the Priestly Ordination of Father Robert Bedard, founder of the Companions of the Cross.

As he is in hospital, I will join some of his confreres for Mass. Please keep him in your prayers.

Some photos of last Saturday's ordination of Father David Bergeron of the Companions [photo credit: Annmarie Gruden Photograph] are interspersed with this reflection on the Priestly Order of Melchizedek into which Our Blessed Lord was anointed by the Holy Spirit and to which all who share in his priestly office belong:

The Body and Blood of Christ (Year "C") - June 6, 2010JESUS AND THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK [Texts: Genesis 14:18-20 [Psalm 110]; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; Luke 9:11b-17]

Classical stained glass windows in older Catholic churches regularly portray Melchizedek. This mysterious figure presented to Abraham "bread and wine", sacrificial offerings that anticipate the elements transformed into Christ's body and blood at the Eucharist.

The First Eucharistic Prayer asks God to “look with favour on these offerings (the consecrated bread and wine) and accept them as once You accepted the gifts of Your servant Abel, the sacrifice of Abraham our father in faith, and the bread and wine offered by Your priest Melchizedek”.

Melchizedek's name means “king of righteousness" or "my king is righteousness/ salvation”. As we encounter him in today's first reading, he held two offices. He was king of Salem, a title interpreted to mean “king of peace” (see Hebrews 7:2), though originally it may have referred to ancient, pre-Davidic Jerusalem.

Melchizedek was also priest of “God Most High, Maker of heaven and earth”. Carrying out his priestly duties, he blessed Abram (Abraham) as the latter was returning victorious from battling a coalition of city-state chieftains. Abram took joint action with five ancient kings committed to fight four other kings who had plundered the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and taken captive Abram's nephew Lot, a resident of Sodom.

Later on, Abram would intercede on behalf of Sodom and Gomorrah--cities that are a byword for sinfulness—for the sake of the few righteous folk in them (Genesis 18:22-33).

In this earlier episode, Abram risked his life to benefit them. Though Abram's thoughts were focused on gaining back Lot's freedom, in the process he liberated great sinners. Already God's chosen, Abram made common cause with non-Hebrews to undo evil.

Melchizedek brought Abram food and drink, blessing him in the name of God Most High, the Creator. Then Melchizedek blessed Abram's God for delivering him.

In response, Abram gave Melchizedek tithes, thereby implicitly recognizing the legitimacy of Melchizedek's priesthood in service of the same God Abram worshipped.

Scriptural mention of Melchizedek includes Psalm 110, a royal psalm, and Hebrews 5-7, in which the sacred author gives his existence a messianic interpretation.

Psalm 110, the Old Testament text most cited by the New Testament, calls the ruling Israelite king “a priest forever in the line of Melchizedek”. Ancient readers may have considered Melchizedek to be the precursor of both the priestly and royal lines of Davidic kingship. In this vein, extra-biblical writings describe Melchizedek as the ideal priest-king, with the Dead Sea Scrolls even viewing him as a heavenly judge.

The Epistle to the Hebrews offers an elaborate interpretation of the figure of Melchizedek. In it, Melchizedek is represented as a supernatural figure whose miraculous origin and indestructible life foreshadow the eternal life of the Son of God (5:6, 10; 6:20-7:22).

The author of Hebrews was convinced that, through his sacrifice on the Cross, Jesus had shown Himself to be God's unique high priest, though He did not belong to a priestly tribe (“it is evident that Our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests” [7:14]).

In his being, Melchizedek who was “without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God ... remains a priest forever” (7:3) and foretells the priesthood of Jesus.

In today's gospel, Jesus anticipates His priestly role in the Upper Room and on the Cross. He acted as the liberator of afflicted people, healing “those who needed to be cured” and speaking to the crowds “about the Kingdom of God”.

Then Jesus performed a great miracle, multiplying five loaves and two fish in order to feed five thousand men. Jesus' gestures (“He looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke them”) envisioned the priestly ones He would make at the Last Supper as He gave Himself under the forms of bread and wine (cf. Luke 22:19-20).

As Christian disciples gather on the Solemnity of the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, they herald Christ's priestly death [and resurrection] until the end of time (“as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes”).

In the Eucharist, Christians share in the sacrificial offering of Jesus who remains “a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek”.

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Concelebrants at the ordination

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Congratulations and best wishes to Most Reverend Daniel Bohan, the priests, religious and lay faithful of the Archdiocese of Regina, which this year celebrates its centennial.

The major liturgical celebration of this anniversary will take place in the Brandt Centre (formerly the Agridome) this afternoon.

Ad multos et faustissimos annos!

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