Hello brothers & sisters in Christ! This week we pick up with the topic of Holy Communion, and is it really Jesus? Last time we covered the riveting reality of what Jesus spoke to all of his listeners in Capernaum recounted in chapter 6 of the Gospel of John. We saw that Jesus was clear in speaking about the literal meaning of His words, “my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink, whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” (Jn 6:55-56) Today, we look at the words of Jesus at the last supper and how He still gives us his flesh and blood to consume at every Catholic mass.
With the hour of his passion, death, and resurrection at hand, Jesus gathered with the twelve apostles to celebrate the Passover Seder, commemorating God’s rescue of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. The Hebrew word seder means “order” and refers to the religious service and festive meal observed on Passover. At the Passover Seder, the story of Israel’s rescue from slavery was told with accompanying symbolic foods. One of the symbolic foods was unleavened bread (matzah), recalling that the Israelites “had been rushed out of Egypt and had no opportunity even to prepare food for the journey.” (Ex 12:39). There were also four cups of wine as part of the Passover Seder, honoring God as sanctifier, deliverer, redeemer, and restorer. (Exodus 6:6-7)
It was at this particular Passover Seder (now often called the Last Supper) that Jesus instituted the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31) and transformed the Passover Seder into the first Catholic Mass. The Gospel of Luke recounts Jesus taking the bread and the wine and doing something entirely different than was done at the Seder. Jesus goes off script and authors a new one to reflect His New Covenant and the definitive sacrifice of salvation history that instituted it. Luke’s Gospel recounts: then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke, and gave it to them, saying, “this is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten saying, “this cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you.” (Luke 22:19-20)
By the power of His word, the same power he demonstrated when healing the paralytic and calming the stormy sea by the power of His word, Jesus transformed bread into His body and wine into His blood, giving His apostles these to consume as the sacred meal of the New Covenant. What He said back in Capernaum (“my flesh is true food, my blood is true drink”) had come to pass…He made it happen as He said He would by the power of His word. AND THEN….he looked at his apostles and said “do this in memory of me.” That night, Holy Thursday, Jesus gave us the Eucharist and the Priesthood. Jesus gave His apostles the power to do what He said, which to paraphrase, is essentially “make my body and blood present again just like this.” All the way down from the Apostles to the validly ordained priests in our Catholic Church today…these gifts have been passed on, the Eucharist and the Priesthood, to ensure that the sacrificial meal of the New Covenant would continue to be celebrated by those in this covenant. It is the greatest meal we will ever consume on this side of eternity…the gift of our savior filling us with His very own Body, Blood, Soul & Divinity in majestic and awesome covenant renewal every time we receive Holy Communion. It never gets old! May we never stop falling in love with Him who gave, and gives, Himself fully to us…
Love & blessings, dear family of God! Happy Fathers’ Day!