by Jayson M. Brunelle
In previous posts, I’ve explored the centrality of the Eucharist as the sacrament toward which every other sacrament tends. I’ve talked about the Eucharist as both source and summit of all of the Church’s activity. I’ve underscored Christ’s words regarding His real presence in the Eucharist explained so eloquently in the Gospel of John. But I’ve yet to speak on the Eucharist as the Sacrament of self-giving love, manifested in the words of John the Baptist: “Look – there is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29). At the moment of consecration, the priest says, “Take this, all of you, and eat it. This is my body, which shall be given up for you.” And when consecrating the wine, he states, “Take this, all of you, and drink from it. This is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all, so that sins may be forgiven. Do this in memory of me.” Christ lays down his own life so that we might share in His divine life. And it is in consuming His sacred body and blood that we become a source of life for others. At the last supper, the single most important passover meal ever celebrated, Christ manifests His identity as the passover lamb of sacrifice. In the Old Testament, during the very first passover, an innocent, unblemished lamb is sacrificed. The blood of the sacrificed lamb is placed on the doorposts of the Israelites houses, to save the firstborn males from death. The lamb, which is slain as a sacrifice to the Father, is then consumed by the Israelites to strengthen them for their journey through the desert, toward the promised land. Moreover, as the Jews wander throughout the desert, they are fed with manna, a bread from heaven, which is divinely given to them by God on a daily basis. In the New Testament, Jesus is the unblemished Lamb of God who offers himself as a sacrifice of atonement to the Father, thereby saving us from the death of sin and hell. It is precisely his blood that saves us from spiritual death. Moreover, Jesus offers us his own body, which has just been sacrificed, to spiritually strengthen us on our journey through the desert of this life as we make our way to the Promised Land of Heaven. Moreover, Jesus is the manna, the “bread from heaven” that we are nourished with on a day-to-day basis, as the Father provides all that we need, not more, not less.
Thus, to truly enter into the mystery of the Eucharistic Pasch, we need to turn our attention to the Old Testament narrative of the very first Passover meal. Only then will we begin to understand, however superficially (after all, this is a mystery of the deposit of faith), the tremendous significance of our Eucharistic Passover meal and sacrifice in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and the grand mystery of Christ’s infinite, perfect, merciful and sadly, often unrequited, love for humanity in His real presence in the Eucharist.
May you recieve into your souls the manifold grace that the Eucharistic Lord objectively brings about in your next reception of the Sacrament.