The Holy Eucharist

The Holy Eucharist


[Now that we have looked at the place of sacrifice and covenant throughout salvation history], we are in a position to understand the relationship between the Eucharist and sacrifice. This association was made by Jesus himself…on the night before his death. As Luke tells us…, Jesus “took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19)…. “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20). On Matthew’s telling, Jesus makes the sacrificial significance even clearer: over the cup he says, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matt. 26:27-28).

Jesus was using the Passover supper to give a definitive interpretation to the actions that he would take the next day, Good Friday. As this bread is broken and shared, so, he was saying, my body tomorrow will be broken and offered; as this cup is poured out, so my blood tomorrow will be poured out in sacrifice. In his crucified body, he will be like the Passover lamb slaughtered in the temple, signifying Israel’s total commitment to Yahweh and Yahweh’s to Israel.

In sum, the words of Jesus over the bread and cup at the Last Supper effected a stunning gathering of the variety of strands of covenantal and sacrificial theology in the Hebrew Scriptures. Thomas Aquinas commented that…the new law of the Gospel is efficacious because it is realized internally, through the identification of Christ and his Body the Church. And nowhere is this identification more complete than in the Eucharist, when a disciple physically consumes the incarnate Christ, the law par excellence.

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