Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,
“As we continue to explore “How God Distributes His Gifts” we delve into a deeper look at each of the sacraments. We are reminded that Jesus promises that he would not leave us orphans but would send the Holy Spirit to guide and protect us. He gave the sacraments to heal, feed, and strengthen us.
We first looked at the sacrament of Baptism and Penance. Today we will look at the sacrament of the Eucharist. For those who are interested in learning more about the Eucharist you can turn to the Catechism of the Catholic Church numbers 1322-1419.
Once we become members of Christ’s family, he does not let us go hungry, but feeds us with his own body and blood through the Eucharist. In the Old Testament, as they prepared for their journey in the wilderness, God commanded his people to sacrifice a lamb and sprinkle its blood on their doorposts, so the Angel of Death would pass by their homes. Then they ate the lamb to seal their covenant with God.
This lamb prefigured Jesus. He is the real “Lamb of God,” who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). Through Jesus we enter into a New Covenant with God (Luke 22:20), who protects us from eternal death. God’s Old Testament people ate the Passover lamb. Now we must eat the Lamb that is the Eucharist. Jesus, said, “Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you have no life within you” (John 6:53).
At the Last Supper he took bread and wine and said, “Take and eat. This is my body…This is my blood which will be shed for you” (Mark 14:22-24). In this way Jesus instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist, the sacrificial meal Catholics consume at each Mass.
The Catholic Church teaches that the sacrifice of Christ on the cross occurred “once for all.” It cannot be repeated (Heb. 9:28). Christ does not “die again” during Mass, but the very same sacrifice that occurred on Calvary is made present on the altar. That’s why the Mass in not “another” sacrifice, but a participation in the same, once-for-all sacrifice of Christ on the cross.
Paul reminds us that the bread and the wine really become, by a miracle of God’s grace, the actual body and blood of Jesus: “Anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself” (1 Cor. 11:27-29). After the consecration of the bread and wine, no bread or wine remains on the altar. Only Jesus himself, under the appearance of bread and wine, remains.” (Pillar of fire-Pillar of truth, Catholic Answers)
“The celebration of Mass, as the action of Christ and of the People of God arrayed hierarchically, is the center of the whole of Christian life for the Church both universal and local, as well as for each of the faithful individually. For in it is found the high point both of the action by which God sanctifies the world in Christ and of the worship that the human race offers to the Father, adoring him through Christ, the Son of God, in the Holy Spirit. In it, moreover, during the course of the year, the mysteries of redemption are celebrated so as to be in some way made present. As to the other sacred actions and all activities of the Christian life, these are bound up with it, flow from it, and are ordered to it.” (The General Instruction of the Roman Missal)