Eucharist as a Sacrifice

Apr 28, 2023 | Eucharist, Sacraments, Spiritual Life

Eucharist as Sacrifice

In this Easter Season, we have begun to offer Communion under both species – both the bread and the cup. As we have prepared for this return to offering the cup, I have shared a series of thoughts with you in this space. Now, I invite you to reflect with me on the Eucharist as a sacrifice.

The Risen One is also the Crucified One

In the Gospels for the Second Week of Easter, we hear John’s account of Jesus appearing to the disciples – first on Easter Sunday evening and then again a week later. Jesus stands in their midst says “Peace be with you.’ When he had said this he showed them his hands and his side” (John 20:20), By showing the wounds on his hands, feet and side, Jesus demonstrates that the risen One is also the crucified One. He connects the events of Easter Sunday to the events of Good Friday. Jesus sends the disciples into the world to carry on the reconciling work accomplished in the sacrifice of Good Friday.

The Eucharist Makes Present the Sacrifice of the Cross

The events of the Last Supper occurred within the celebration of Passover. The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes it this way, “As often as the sacrifice of the Cross by which ‘Christ our Pasch has been sacrificed’ is celebrated on the altar, the work of our redemption is carried out” (1364) (Pasch is the Greek word for Passover). The connection between Passover and the Eucharist emphasizes salvation – the movement from slavery to freedom.

The sixth chapter of John’s Gospel emphasizes these connections. The chapter contains “the Bread of Life” discourse.“ In this discourse, Jesus connects the Eucharist to the events of Exodus, “I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world…Jesus said to them ‘Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood; you do not have life within you.’ Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise that one on the last day’” (John 6:48-54).

Receiving Both the Bread and the Cup

In an earlier post, I reflected with you on the importance of receiving Eucharist regularly and under both doing so allows us a more complete participation in Jesus’ actions at the Lord’s Supper. Likewise, eating and drinking allow a more complete participation in Jesus’ command given in the Bread of Life Discourse – eat and drink. By doing so, we participate more fully in the reconciling work of Jesus accomplished through the Paschal Mystery – Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.

Fr. Brian Conley, S.J.

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