The Church will celebrate The Solemnity of Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of Christ at the end of the month. This is part two of a reflection on the Eucharist by Fr Gabriel Julien. Part one appeared in last Sunday’s issue.
At the Last Supper, Jesus made direct reference to the action of Moses found in Exodus 24: 8 when He established a new covenant by means of His own blood.
The following passages: Matthew 26: 28, Mark 14: 24, Luke 22: 20, and 1 Corinthians 11: 25 underscore this fact. According to Matthew 26: 26–28, Mark 14: 22–24, Luke 22: 19–20, and 1 Corinthians 11: 23–25, Jesus instituted the Eucharist at the Last Supper.
Paul and Luke teach that this new covenant also refers to the one cited in Jeremiah 31: 31. Furthermore, the book of Exodus 12: 7, Exodus 24: 5 teaches that this new covenant in the blood of Jesus replaces the blood of lambs and bulls. Moreover, it washes away sins.
Matthew 26: 28 and Mark 14: 24 state that the blood of Jesus will be poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. This is an allusion to Jesus as the fulfillment of mission stated in Isaiah 53: 3–6, 11–12. This Servant, Isaiah 54: 10, 55: 10, 56: 6, 61: 8, who is a light to the nations and who brings salvation to the ends of the earth is in fact a covenant personified. Jeremiah 31: 31–34, teaches that forgiveness of sins is joined to the new covenant.
The Eucharist, therefore, is filled with saving grace and Christ is the author. The Eucharist is also the source of the other Sacraments. It contains them all and in turn it is contained in them as the end and the means just as charity is found in all the other virtues.
Richstatter (1995, P. 51) further explains that: “The Eucharist is the first sacrament. It is the first sacrament in the sense that it is the principal sacrament, the principal manifestation of Jesus Christ, the root and source of all the sacraments. Furthermore, Eucharist is the model of all the other sacraments; it says all that the other sacraments can say.”
Therefore, all other Sacraments can be seen as a preparation that climaxes in the Eucharist. The Eucharist is united with the sacrifice of the Church. Pope Leo XIII says it is the very soul of the Church. Hence, participation in the Eucharist is absolutely necessary for salvation.
In John 6: 54, Jesus said that: “Unless you eat the flesh of the son of man and drink his blood you shall not have life in you.” Haring, (1967, P. 600) cites Rahner who makes the following claim: “If Christ is the Sacrament of God, and the Church the Sacrament of Christ, then the Eucharist is the Sacrament of the Church, the Sacrament of unity and love. In fact, the Eucharist is an absolutely central event in the Church, and the Church cannot do without it. Because Christ is truly giving Himself as sacrificial food in and for the Church by means of this sacred meal, it is here in this sacramental worship that the church attains the highest actuality of her own nature, namely, to be the visible, permanent, and effective sign of God’s saving grace present in the world through Christ.” (Haring, 1967, P. 600) (Rahner 82 -87)