The Holy Eucharist

The Holy Eucharist


In a world gone wrong, there is no communion without sacrifice. [We often read in the Bible about God’s anger,] but we mustn’t interpret this symbolic expression literally. The divine wrath is a theological symbol for the justice of God—which is to say, God’s passion to set things right.

In the years following Vatican II, the meal dimension of the Eucharist was almost exclusively emphasized. The classical description of the Mass as a sacrifice was muted…,in an attempt to correct an excessive stress on the sacrificial dimension…, but the pendular swing did not help the Church. When the two aspects of the Eucharist—meal and sacrifice—are separated, the biblical principal is compromised and the Mass can devolve into something less than fully serious. There can be no communion without sacrifice, and thus there is no Eucharistic table that is not, at the same time, an altar.

In the scriptural reading, God sets himself the task of saving his compromised creation [by establishing with them, first through Abraham, a covenant sealed by sacrifice.] As Eve and Adam became rebels, Abraham must, accordingly, become a servant. [God will form a people after his own heart] around the intertwined themes of covenant and sacrifice.

The covenant has to be sealed by a sacrifice because we live in a world that is off-kilter. Prior to the fall, the human pledge of fidelity to God would have been effortless; after the fall, it must come at a cost, through a painful reconfiguration of the self. It is this inner sacrifice that is expressed symbolically through the offering of grain or an animal.

Nowhere is the awful link between covenant and sacrifice clearer than in the story of… the sacrifice of Isaac.

Robert Barron, Eucharist, (2021)
©Word on Fire Catholic Ministries, Park Ridge, IL