The Eucharist and the Paschal Mystery of Christ
The Eucharist is intimately tethered to Holy Week and the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. They are bound so closely together that the Holy Father ...
by Father Patrick Murphy, LC | Source: Catholic.net
Luke 22: 14-23:56
When the hour arrived, Jesus took his place at table, and the apostles with him. He said to them: “I have greatly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. I tell you, I will not eat again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Then taking a cup he offered a blessing in thanks and said: “Take this and divide it among you; I tell you, from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the coming of the reign of God.” Then taking bread and giving thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying: “This is my body to be given for you. Do this as a remembrance of me.” He did the same with the cup after eating, saying as he did so: “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you.
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, the Church celebrates Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday on the same day each year, as a prelude to Holy Week. You entered Jerusalem amidst glory and joy, but also amidst looming shadows of passion and death. You knew our lives would be woven through with glory and cross, so you left us the Eucharist to nourish and strengthen us along the way. Nourish and strengthen me Lord, through your Body and Blood, and enkindle within me the desire to share in your glory.
Petition: Increase my love and desire for your Eucharist, Lord.
1. With Jesus at table
The apostles were with Jesus at table because, as John Paul II states in his encyclical, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, “The Church draws her life from the Eucharist.” Jesus longed to be with the apostles precisely on this occasion: “I have greatly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer…” He wanted to be their strength and refuge amidst the trials that were looming over them. This desire was not only for the apostles. He insinuates a sharing of this meal again, with others, when he says, “I will not eat again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” We know that he does share this meal again every time we attend Mass and receive him in Communion. The Holy Father teaches us that although the Church experiences the presence of Christ in many ways, “in the Holy Eucharist, through the changing of bread and wine into the body and blood of the Lord, she rejoices in this presence with unique intensity.” In fact ever since the Church began her pilgrim journey towards her heavenly homeland, “the Divine Sacrament has continued to mark the passing of her days, filling them with confident hope” (Ecclesia de Eucharistia #1).
2. The Sacrament of the paschal mystery
The Eucharist is intimately tethered to Holy Week and the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. They are bound so closely together that the Holy Father will call the Eucharist “in an outstanding way the sacrament of the paschal mystery.” Do we fully understand this when we receive Communion? “Did the apostles who took part in the Last Supper understand the meaning of the words spoken by Christ? Perhaps not,” John Paul II says. They would come to understand the meaning better, but only after witnessing Jesus’ passion, death and rising to new life. “Those words would only be fully clear at the end of the Triduum Sacrum, the time from Thursday evening to Sunday morning. Those days embrace the mysterium paschale; they also embrace the mysterium eucharisticum.” (Ecclesia de Eucharistia #2). This Holy Week let us prepare to assimilate more fully the paschal mystery by sharing more intimately in the mystery of the Eucharist.
3. Drink of Salvation
Jesus Christ is fully present under both species of communion. In the Eucharist he offers us both his body and blood. Blood, of course, is the last thread and hold on life. To pour out one’s blood is to severe the last thread and break the final hold. Jesus gave the apostles his body, but also his blood, because he loved them to the extreme, to the final drop of life within him. “The institution of the Eucharist,” says the Holy Father, “sacramentally anticipated the events which were about to take place, beginning with the agony in Gethsemane.” In that garden Christ in prayer was filled with anguish “and his sweat became like drops of blood falling down upon the ground” (see Luke 22:44). The Holy Father fills in the picture: "The blood which shortly before he had given to the Church as the drink of salvation in the sacrament of the Eucharist, began to be shed; its outpouring would then be completed on Golgotha to become the means of our redemption: 'Christ... as high priest of the good things to come..., entered once for all into the Holy Place, taking not the blood of goats and calves but his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption' (Heb 9:11- 12)" (Ecclesia de Eucharistia #3).
Conversation: Lord Jesus, I believe that you offer to us your body and blood in the sacrament of the Eucharist. I believe the paschal mystery is made present once again whenever I attend Mass and receive you in Communion. You know I have intimate sufferings to bear and personal agony to endure due to my fallen nature and the crosses and trials of my life. Help me to unite these sufferings with you in the Eucharist. Strengthen me with your grace and love so I will do my part to share in the salvation of souls and the coming of your Kingdom.
1. What part does the paschal mystery play in my worship of God and reception of Communion during Mass? What about after Mass during the week? What practical consequences does the Eucharist have in my life of holiness?
2. Do I realize as Christ did, that I exist for others and that I am called to pour out my life as a libation for the salvation of souls? How do I live this out in my day to day life?
3. Does my worship of Christ in the Eucharist lead me to a firm resolution to forge the habit of generosity and self-sacrificing love? Do I ask Christ in prayer for this grace to love him in concrete actions throughout my day? What else can I do so that the Eucharist has the effect on me that Christ desires?