‘This is my body; this is my blood’

The Body and Blood of Christ Year B

It is against the background of Jesus’ approaching death that we gain a deeper understanding of his actions at the Last Supper. Fr Adrian Graffy reflects.

Mark 14:12-16, 22-26

12 On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb was sacrificed, his disciples said to Jesus, ‘Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?’ 13 So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, ‘Go into the city and you will meet a man carrying a pitcher of water. Follow him, 14 and say to the owner of the house which he enters, ”The Master says: Where is my dining room in which I can eat the Passover with my disciples?” 15 He will show you a large upper room furnished with couches, all prepared. Make the preparations for us there.’ 16 The disciples set out and went to the city and found everything as he had told them, and prepared the Passover.
22 And as they were eating he took some bread, and when he had said the blessing he broke it and gave it to them. ‘Take it,’ he said, ‘this is my body.’ 23 Then he took a cup, and when he had returned thanks he gave it to them, and all drank from it, 24 and he said to them, ’This is my blood, the blood of the covenant, which is to be poured out for many. 25 I tell you solemnly, I shall not drink any more wine until the day I drink the new wine in the kingdom of God.’ 26 After psalms had been sung they left for the Mount of Olives.

Other readings: Exodus 24:3-8 Psalm 115 (116) Hebrews 9:11-15


The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ is an opportunity to revisit the events of Holy Thursday, and in particular the institution of the Eucharist. It is against the background of Jesus’ approaching death that we gain a deeper understanding of the actions of Jesus at the Last Supper.

The disciples are told to prepare the Passover. While the Jewish Passover feast celebrated God’s goodness in liberating the chosen people from slavery in Egypt, the Supper which Jesus gives will commemorate the selfless love of his death on the cross, by which we are liberated and born to new life.

In blessing and sharing the bread and wine Jesus is giving himself. By doing this in memory of him his disciples make present through the centuries the gift and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The Letter to the Hebrews illustrates how the death of Christ is the once-and-for-all sacrifice of himself for our salvation. It makes redundant all the sacrifices of the old law. It is by his own blood that Christ purifies us. The blood of goats and bulls is no longer necessary. This is why Christ’s sacrifice is the sacrifice of the ‘new covenant’ of which we are the beneficiaries.

What does the Eucharist mean to me?

How can I avoid a sense of routine as I take part in the Mass?

Pray for a deeper awareness of being drawn into the Body of Christ by receiving the Eucharist.

Pray for a sense of unity with God’s people as we share ‘one bread’ and ‘one cup’.

INT-IMG_5349 Fr Adrian Graffy (3)Rev Dr Adrian Graffy is a member of the Vatican Commission that takes a lead in Bible scholarship, interpretation and promotion in the Catholic Church.

Rev Dr Graffy said of his five-year appointment by Pope Francis in 2014: “It is an honour to be nominated by Pope Francis as a member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. I feel humbled and very much look forward to being of service to His Holiness and the Church.”

He added: “A great deal has been achieved in England and Wales in recent years by many co-workers to advance Biblical scholarship and the provision of easy-to-use resources. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them and the Bishops’ Conference Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis for their efforts to promote understanding and love of the Bible, particularly through the publication of the teaching documents, The Gift of Scripture and the study guide to Verbum Domini, The Word of the Lord.”

Rev Dr Graffy received his doctorate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome in 1983. He taught for over 20 years in St John’s Seminary in Wonersh, and is Chair of the National Scripture Working Group, which is an instrument of the Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. Fr Graffy is a past director of Brentwood’s Commission for Evangelisation and Formation and parish priest of Christ the Eternal High Priest in Gidea Park, Essex. Among his publications are the Gospel of Mark and the Letter to the Romans (Alive Publishing).

Listen to BBC Essex interview with Fr Adrian Graffy