Thursday, April 13, 2006

Mt 26:26-28

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." Then he took a cup, gave thanks, 16 and gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins. (Mt 26:26-28)

Nowadays, people are very uncomfortable with the idea of Latin being used in the liturgy, even if it's only to such an extent as using it during the Consecration. But I ask you: why worry about changing the liturgical dialect back to a language which you don't know and don't understand if you don't even understand it in the mother tongue?

Too many people today simply don't get it about this Sacrament, the institution of which we remember tonight. They either don't believe at all the focal point of Catholicism, or most perfect link between ourselves and God. They've been to Mass before; what is the big deal?

The calendar of the Church is so simple yet brilliant in the way every week presents another reading which we are bidden to see how it fits into our lives and how we can conform ourselves to it. This one day, especially, we should focus exclusively on the Eucharist.

Take this all of you and eat it - Take this all of you and drink.

The Jews would renew the covenant of the Passover every year by partaking of the unleavened Passover bread. From the time of Christ to today, incidentally, the use of unleavened bread has always been employed in the Latin Rite.

Like the Jews, we celebrate our deliverance from death. However, unlike the Jews, we remember especially the price at which it came. God could have deigned to accept the sacrifice for sins from anyone, but willed that His own divine son should be it and no other. Let us never forget the cost of Christ, who gave Himself up on the Cross and who, now and forever, gives Himself to us in the Eucharist behind the matter of bread and wine.

This is My Body - This is My blood.

Jesus Christ wanted to leave no doubt whatsoever in the minds of His apostles as to His meaning. This is no mere symbol. This IS My Body. Today there are some who assume the title "Catholic" yet who don't even believe in the real presence. How could we look Christ in the eye and profess that the greatest of the sacraments He gave us is naught more than a symbol? The fact is we d that every week.

Christ meant what he said. If we believe it's only a symbol, than for God's sake, let this be a time to stop where we are and believe. If we are trying to believe but are continually subdued by doubt, let's calm down and pray that we might have the courage to take a leap of faith and believe. If we confidently believe, let's ask the Lord to strengthen our relationship with Him and bring others into His full friendship.

The Blood of the new and everlasting covenant.

In the times of the Old Testament there were many covenants made with between God and the Jews. These were essentially contracts. The Jews would do this or that or refrain from doing this or that and God would keep them in His friendship.

But those covenants were doomed to fail sooner or later. They were imperfect, and like us, being imperfect, are doomed to fail. These covenants are gone now. But what was a sign of covenants? Wine. At the wedding feast of Cana, when Jesus begins His public ministry, His Holy Mother, Mary, comes to Him and tells Him ever so simply, "The wine is running out." The Old Covenants are falling; it is time for the new and everlasting covenant.

This new covenant is that in Christ's blood. It will not have to be replaced...it is the new and everlasting covenant. If we remain stubborn to the face of sin and keep our eyes on Christ, allow ourselves to be shielded by the chair of Peter whose job it is to bring us to Christ, than Christ will raise us up.

But God's part in this was the blood of Jesus Christ. It has been shed now, and God has done His part. Now it is time for us to do ours.

It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven.

Just as Christ says that this IS My body, so He also tells us plainly that His blood WILL be shed. Why not make that clear? Is is for this that Christ came.

To offer Himself up as the perfect sacrifice to God is why Christ came. Not simply for this wishy-washy peace-and-love business we see so often painted on the image Christ. Of course those virtues were part of Christ message, but never forget that the fulfillment of God's plan came when the blood of the unblemished lamb was spilt on the ground. As Jesus tells Pontius Pilate, "It is for this reason have I come."

By shedding His blood He opens back up the gates of Heaven which were shut after the fall of Adam and Eve.

God and sin cannot reside in the same place for eternity. That is why the faithful who died before the nativity and passion of Christ could not immediately enter Heaven but had to wait in a place some believe to believe to have been Hell, some Purgatory, and still others (especially Theologians) Limbo.

They had to wait because in the Old Testament, there was no full expiation of sin. There were sacrifices and libations that could show contrition, but there was no absolution. It could soften the blow, so to speak, but nothing more.

When Christ came and sacrificed Himself, absolution of sin was made possible. It was made possible because Christ, the second person of the Blessed Trinity,equally God with the Father and the Holy Spirit, true God and true man, willed that it be so when He said "it will be shed for you and for all for the forgiveness of sins."

which will be given up for you - do this in memory of Me.

Just like Jesus said that His blood would certainly and absolutely be shed, He also says of His body that it WILL be given up.

If Christ had only said that these were His body and blood, there would have been nothing more than that Last Supper.

But that's not all He says. He also leaves behind nothing short of an order to His apostles. "DO THIS IN MEMORY OF ME." This is not simply a piece of encouragement, but a straight forward command.

"DO THIS", said Christ, and His apostles did it. From the earliest days of the Christian Church the holy saints wrote of the Eucharist. Don't ever lose sight of that reality which is the real presence. The Mass was celebrated first by Jesus Christ, the first priest, and then by the apostles, and then to their apostolic succession down to this day.

It is the Body, the Blood, the Soul, and the Divinty of God - believe it. Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever.