Bread of Life

BREAD OF LIFE
 this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. (john 6: 50)
The miracle of God’s physical presence to us at every Mass is the truest testament to Christ’s love for us and His desire for each of us to have a personal relationship with Him. Jesus Christ celebrated the first Mass with His disciples at the Last Supper, the night before He died. He commanded His disciples, “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). The celebration of the Mass then became the main form of worship in the early Church, as a reenactment of the Last Supper, as Christ had commanded. Each and every Mass since commemorates Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross through the Holy Eucharist. Because the Mass “re-presents” (makes present) the sacrifice on Calvary, Catholics all around the world join together to be made present in Christ’s timeless sacrifice for our sins. There is something fascinating about continuing to celebrate the same Mass—instituted by Christ and practiced by the early Church—with the whole community of Catholics around the world…and in heaven.

THE REAL PRESENCE

Why does the Catholic Church believe Christ is really present in the Eucharist?
The Catholic doctrine of the Real Presence is the belief that Jesus Christ is literally, not symbolically, present in the Holy Eucharist—body, blood, soul and divinity. Catholics believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist because Jesus tells us this is true in the Bible:

“I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh." The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ So Jesus said to them,

"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” - John 6:48-56
Furthermore, the early Church Fathers either imply or directly state that the bread and wine offered in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper is really the body and blood of Jesus Christ. In other words, the doctrine of the Real Presence that Catholics believe today was believed by the earliest Christians 2,000 years ago!

This miracle of God’s physical presence to us at every Mass is the truest testament to Christ’s love for us and His desire for each of us to have a personal relationship with Him.

Monday, August 9, 2010

WHAT WAS FINISHED?

“’29 17 I tell you, from now on I shall not drink this fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it with you new in the kingdom of my Father."

30 18 Then, after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. .” (Matthew 26:29-30)

Jesus was celebrating the Passover Meal with his apostles. He had just instituted the Eucharist & the priesthood after drinking the third cup, the Cup of Salvation, giving us the salvation of the New Covenant. The Passover will climax with the singing of the “Great Hallel” (Psalms 114-118) and the drinking of the fourth cup of wine – the Cup of Consummation.

THE LORD'S SUPPER

Matthew 26: 26-30: 26 14 15 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, "Take and eat; this is my body."

27 Then he took a cup, gave thanks, 16 and gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you,
28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.
29 17 I tell you, from now on I shall not drink this fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it with you new in the kingdom of my Father."
30 18 Then, after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

“After singing a hymn,” many scholars believe the hymn Jesus would sing would be the Great Hallel, the hymns sung prior to drinking the fourth cup and completing the Passover meal. But instead of drinking the fourth cup to finish the Passover, Jesus leaves. In fact, He says He will not drink the fruit of the vine & then goes out to the Mount of Olives.

Doesn’t it seem odd, that a good Jew would purposely stop the Passover meal before its completion? It’s like He meant not to drink what he was supposed to drink as part of the Passover.

GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE

Matthew 26: 36-39: 36 21 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, 22 and he said to his disciples, "Sit here while I go over there and pray."
37 He took along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, 23 and began to feel sorrow and distress.
38 Then he said to them, "My soul is sorrowful even to death. 24 Remain here and keep watch with me."
39 He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, "My Father, 25 if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will."

Matthew 26: 42-44: 42 27 Withdrawing a second time, he prayed again, "My Father, if it is not possible that this cup pass without my drinking it, your will be done!"
43 Then he returned once more and found them asleep, for they could not keep their eyes open.
44 He left them and withdrew again and prayed a third time, saying the same thing again.

Mark 14:32, 36-39:32 11 Then they came to a place named Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, "Sit here while I pray."
36 he said, "Abba, Father, 12 all things are possible to you. Take this cup away from me, but not what I will but what you will."
37 When he returned he found them asleep. He said to Peter, "Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour?
38 13 Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak."
39 Withdrawing again, he prayed, saying the same thing.

Luke 22: 41-44:41 After withdrawing about a stone's throw from them and kneeling, he prayed,
42 saying, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done."
43 14 (And to strengthen him an angel from heaven appeared to him.
44 He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground.)

Jesus prayed, “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39) Three times he asked that the cup pass him by (Matthew 26:42-44). Clearly, in his human nature, Jesus was afraid & wanted to avoid suffering, but chose obedience.

We know what happens next. Jesus is betrayed & arrested, tried, & brought before Pilate.

THE CRUCIFIXION

John 19:23-24: 23 9 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four shares, a share for each soldier. They also took his tunic, but the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top down.

24 So they said to one another, "Let's not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it will be," in order that the passage of scripture might be fulfilled (that says): "They divided my garments among them, and for my vesture they cast lots." This is what the soldiers did. (John 19: 23-24)

John 19: 28-30: 28 After this, aware that everything was now finished, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled, 12Jesus said, "I thirst."

29 There was a vessel filled with common wine. 13 So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop and put it up to his mouth.

30 14 When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, "It is finished." And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.

John 19: 32-36: 32 So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and then of the other one who was crucified with Jesus.

33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs,

34 15 but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out.

35 An eyewitness has testified, and his testimony is true; he knows 16 that he is speaking the truth, so that you also may (come to) believe.

36 For this happened so that the scripture passage might be fulfilled: "Not a bone of it will be broken."
JESUS REFUSES WINE

Mark 15: 22-24: 22 They brought him to the place of Golgotha (which is translated Place of the Skull).
23 They gave him wine drugged with myrrh, but he did not take it.
24 9 Then they crucified him and divided his garments by casting lots for them to see what each should take.

Jesus said two things on the cross: “I thirst,” & “It is finished.”

When Jesus said, “I thirst,” he was given wine. “A bowl of sour wine stood there; so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on hyssop and held it to his mouth.” (John 19:29)

After drinking from the fruit of the vine, he said, “It is finished.”

What is finished? The Passover sacrifice is finished. Jesus drank from the fourth & final cup of the Passover, the Cup of Consummation, and in His drinking, the Passover is finished. The lamb has been slain. The sacrifice has been consummated.
Jesus is the Passover lamb. He is the Passover sacrifice. He is the perfect, spotless unblemished, lamb, no bones are broken. He is the ultimate sacrifice for sin. His blood, the blood of the Lamb of God, is the blood of the New Covenant, reconciling man to God. The gates of heaven are reopened. Eternal life is now available for all!
Undoing the sin of Adam. Jesus willingly suffered & died, laying down his life for his bride, the Church. Adam, fearing death, refused to lay down his life for his bride. Jesus undid in the Garden of Gethsemane, what Adam did in the Garden of Eden. His blood is the blood of the new covenant. He fulfills the promises of Isaiah’s suffering servant, the servant king messiah.

In the Eucharist we “zecher”, or make present, the Passover sacrifice of Jesus at the Mass. We re-present Jesus as the Sacrifice, this time in an unbloody manner. The law of Moses prescribed that the Passover lamb must be consumed in its entirety. We, too, at our sacrifice, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, must consume the Lamb. Jesus, God made man, comes to us body, blood, soul & divinity, in the Eucharist, giving us the grace we need to pick up our cross & follow in Him.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, have mercy on us!

So today, as you go through your day would you join me in praying this prayer in thanksgiving for the love of God poured out for you & for me. “We adore You, O Christ, and we bless You because by Your holy cross you have redeemed the world.”

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

After the beginning of Jesus' Last Passover Supper (Seder) Judas Iscariot left to do what he had to do. The twelve left in the room were at the point where the second of four traditional cups was about to be drunk.

(The first is at the beginning of the Seder meal.) Jesus took the cup and gave thanks and gave it to them and said, "Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the Kingdom of God comes."

More of the lamb meal was consumed. During that He took a loaf of unleavened bread, gave thanks, broke it and gave it to His disciples saying, "This IS my body given for you; do this to recall me." ("Recall" is a better translation of the Greek "anamnesis" than "remember".)

After the supper He took the third cup saying, "Drink from it, all of you. This IS my blood of the NEW and everlasting covenant which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins."

A hymn was sung, which is a combination of several psalms called The Great Hillel, and they went out to the Mount of Olives.

What happened? The Passover ceremony and ritual was not complete. There was no fourth cup. There was no announcement that it was finished. Could it be that Jesus was so upset with what He knew was about to happen that He forgot? Doubtful!

Not only Jesus, but also the 11 others had participated in the Passover Seder every year of their lives. No, this was done on purpose. The last supper of Jesus was not over.

On the Mount of Olives, in the Garden of Gethsemane, the disciples slept while Jesus prayed, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done."

He prayed that three times. Then Jesus was arrested, illegally put on trial by the Sanhedrin, then by Pontius Pilate, sentenced and crucified.

While on the cross He wept. Jesus, who was in excruciating agony, was so merciful that He prayed for the forgiveness of His executioners. He was offered some wine with a pain killer, myrrh, in it. He refused it.

"Later, knowing that all was now complete, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled and the kingdom established, Jesus said, 'I am thirsty.'" A man dipped a sponge into sour wine; he placed it on a hyssop branch and lifted it up to Jesus lips.

He drank. (We recall that it was the hyssop branch which was used to paint lambs blood around the Hebrew's door for the Passover of the angel of death.)

It was then that Jesus said, "It is finished." He then bowed His head and gave up the spirit to His Father. The fourth cup now represented the lamb’s blood of the first Passover, a saving signal to the angel of death.

The Lamb of God was now sacrificed. The last Passover supper of Jesus Christ was now complete with the fourth cup. It was finished.

The tie in with the Passover is unmistakable.

The Lamb of God was sacrifice and death was about to be passed over come Easter day.

The promise of eternal life for many was about to be fulfilled.

Christ’s Passover was finished, but His mission was not until he rose from the dead.

Kiran Ignatius said...

Wow ! This had never crossed my mind and I have never read about it too...

Thanks for the wonderful post.

Michael said...

Yes, it 'blew my mind' also, when I first read it, Kiran!

You must watch the video The 4th Cup .

God bless you
Michael