We have come to the third “Sacrament of Initiation,” which is the Most Blessed Sacrament, the Eucharist. While Baptism is the first Sacrament and the doorway to the supernatural life of grace, the Eucharist is the greatest of the Sacraments. Indeed, the Second Vatican Council refers to the Eucharist “the source and summit of the Christian life…. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch” (Catechism 1324). posted 9/3/20We have come to the third “Sacrament of Initiation,” which is the Most Blessed Sacrament, the Eucharist. While Baptism is the first Sacrament and the doorway to the supernatural life of grace, the Eucharist is the greatest of the Sacraments. Indeed, the Second Vatican Council refers to the Eucharist “the source and summit of the Christian life…. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch” (Catechism 1324).
That final word, “Pasch,” is essential to understand the significance of the Eucharist. It refers to the Passover, the meal consisting of a sacrificial lamb that the ancient Israelites shared the night before their Exodus from Egypt. To this day, their Jewish descendants celebrate each year the Passover meal as a commemoration of their liberation from bondage under Pharaoh – which culminated with their passage through the Red Sea.
The Passover meal was the context for Our Lord’s Last Supper, which took place the night before His Passion and death. This was, of course, no accident. In fact, it was the fulfillment of that which the Passover and Exodus foreshadowed. The Passover anticipated the event of the passage of the Israelites through the Red Sea. The annual commemoration of the Passover meal is the way in which the Jewish people participate in the Exodus, the event of God’s salvation of their Israelite ancestors. So, these three events are fundamentally connected: 1) Passover, 2) Passage through Red Sea, 3) Annual Passover meal.
Now, when Jesus celebrates the Last Supper with His disciples, He adds something new to the Passover ritual. He takes bread and tells them: “This is my Body, which will be given up for you. Do this in memory of Me.” Then He takes the chalice and says: “This is the chalice of my Blood… Do this in memory of Me.” In this way, Our Lord institutes the Eucharist on Holy Thursday in anticipation of His sacrifice on the cross on Good Friday, and His resurrection on Easter Sunday. For the past 2000 years, Catholics have celebrated the Mass, at which we commemorate Our Lord’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection. So, these three events – 1) Last Supper, 2) Christ’s sacrifice, passage through death, and resurrection, 3) the Mass – are fundamentally connected, and are the fulfillment of the three Old Testament events mentioned above. Thus, the mystery of the liberation of the Israelites under Moses’ leadership from slavery to Pharaoh finds its fulfillment in the liberation of the Church by Christ from slavery to sin and death. We receive a share of Christ’s death and resurrection through Baptism. We are perfected through Confirmation in our reception of the gifts of the Spirit of Christ. Through the Eucharist we are united bodily as the Church to Christ Our Savior. This is what happens at Mass.
And so, we begin to understand the central importance of the Mass. We are never so much the Church as when we are at Mass, for it is at the Mass that the Church, the Bride of Christ, encounters Christ the Bridegroom – not merely in the Spirit (we can encounter Him anywhere and everywhere in the Spirit) but in the flesh. At Mass, bread and wine become His flesh and blood. We know that for sure because Jesus told us so. By giving Himself to us as food, He allows us to enter into Holy Communion with Him. Though it is small and silent, the little white Host radiates with the life of God, for the Lord Jesus died only once on the cross 2000 years ago, never to die again. We receive a share in that when we receive Him at Mass.
In these days when it is hard for many people to come to Mass because of the pandemic, we who are able to come to Mass should spiritually bring our brothers and sisters who can’t come and make them an offering to the Lord by uniting them to the offering of the priest who stands in the person of Christ. That is something that we also can do for those who, for whatever reason, won’t come even under normal circumstances. The glorified wounds on the Eucharistic Body of Christ heal the wounds of sin on the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church.
In conclusion, along with attending Mass, I would like to encourage you to consider coming to regular Eucharistic Adoration at our parish. We expose the Blessed Sacrament for quiet devotion each day during the week – M,Tu,Th, F from 12-1pm, and Wednesdays from 7:30-9pm, with confessions available. The answer to all the world’s problems is Christ Jesus, and He offers Himself to us in the Eucharist.