In our readings today we hear firstly about the old Covenant; the one God made with Moses where the blood of animals was used to take away our sins or to offer glory to God. The blood sealed an acceptance by the people that they would obey the rules God gave to Moses. Down throughout the centuries the people veered away from these rules and turned away from God. However, God, being a loving Father and our Creator, looked for a way to bring the people back to Him. He sent his only Son into the world to save us and draw all men back to Him. In the letter to the Hebrews, we hear that the Sacrifice made by Jesus is the new and eternal covenant, this time made to all mankind and not just the chosen few. We are reminded that Jesus, became the final sacrifice, he who is without blemish, removed the need for animals to be sacrificed. Jesus, as the Lamb of God, shed his blood for his friends, and we who strive to keep his commandments are his friends.

In the next week, the world will remember the colossal efforts of the Allied forces on D-Day as we celebrate 80 years since that day. A day that changed the course of the war and a day that many young men and women lost their lives. Some defending a land they had conquered others trying to set that land free. In all of the films and documentaries made about D-Day there is seldom mention made of the role of the Chaplain. These men including priests, ministers and rabbis who served the spiritual and sometimes medical needs of the brave comrades who fought for our freedom.[1] Field Marshall Montgomery, one of the most prominent commanders in the British Army during World War 2, is quoted as having written “The most important people in the Army are the Nursing Sisters and the Padres — the Sisters because they tell the men they matter to us, and the Padres because they tell the men they matter to God.”[2] Twenty of these British Army padres or chaplains lost their lives in Normandy.

As well as celebrating Mass and granting absolution, these men accompanied the soldiers into battle, but they did not carry any weapons, the Catholic Chaplains had their Mass kit so that they could celebrate Mass anywhere and there are photographs which depict Mass being celebrated in fields or in abandoned buildings; if they were lucky they may have found a church which had not been destroyed or commandeered as a field hospital.[3] For me, the Chaplains exemplify the teachings of Christ, these men are denying their own needs and set out to serve, knowing that their own life was on the line and many have been killed in action over the years.

As I said earlier, one of the key things the Chaplains did was to celebrate Mass and allow the men to receive Holy Communion. Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, no greater love a man can show than he lays down his life to save a friend [John 15:13]. The Sacrament we take part in every time we come to Mass, commemorates this Sacrifice by Jesus. Jesus shed his blood to save us for ever and that is why we need to celebrate this fact for ever too. The chaplains who celebrated Mass on the war fields understood that for men to have extraordinary courage they needed to have extraordinary support, their physical presence as padres allowed the men to have the extraordinary presence of Christ accompanying them.  For the past couple of years, I have been supported in my ministry by a padre. He is a military chaplain currently serving in Edinburgh. We meet monthly, usually via the internet and he provides me with words of wisdom, encouragement and gives me the time and space to consider any issues I may be having. His support is based upon his many years as a priest as well as the time he has spent in the military. The few times we have met physically we have been able to share a meal together and enjoy each other’s company. I find his support to be invaluable, having built up a trusting relationship with him.

The Gospel used today is familiar to us all. Every time we come to Mass, we hear the priest use the words Jesus used as he takes the bread and offers us to take it, as the Body of Christ. He then offers the Chalice in the same way and says drink the Blood of Christ. I encourage us all to listen carefully to the words used in the Eucharistic Prayer. During the Consecration the priest uses the words used by Jesus at the Last Supper. For us this is not just food and drink, sharing in the table of the Lord, but a sharing in the sacrifice, where the blood of the one who was slain is redemptive: ‘Take this all of you and drink from it, for this is the chalice of my blood, the blood of the new and eternal covenant which will be poured out for you and for many, for the forgiveness of sins.’[4]

Although the bread and wine used in our Mass still physically looks and tastes like bread and wine, we know, and we believe that they have been transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ. In this way Jesus has remained with us since the new and eternal covenant was made. By consuming the Body and Blood of Christ we can become like Him, and we too can live forever.

Further Reading

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

CCC 790, 1003, 1322-1419: the Holy Eucharist
CCC 805, 950, 2181-2182, 2637, 2845: the Eucharist and the communion of believers
CCC 1212, 1275, 1436, 2837: the Eucharist as spiritual food

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • The sick and housebound, those who are lonely, those who are dying and those who are grieving.
  • Those affected by poor mental health or addictions.
  • The children in the Tadley & Burghfield Common communities who are still preparing for their First Holy Communion which will take place on the 16th June.
  • Those seeking election, that they have a genuine call to serve their community and that they back up any promises they make with their actions.
  • All military chaplains and those they serve who are prepared to fight for our country. The repose of the souls of those who have died in service of our Nation.

Deacon Tony 31st May 2024

[1] &  2 Never forget the heroic work of chaplains in D-Day invasion | Hilton Head Island Packet


[3] d-day-74-years-later-remembering-the-heroic-chaplains-and-priests-of-normandy-1263 (

[4] Robert Draper, Pastoral Review Vol 20 Issue 2, [The Tablet Publishing Company, London,2024]82.