09 June, 2009

Passover compared to the Mass

The Israelites continued to remember their bitter bondage while in Egypt. Jesus instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice as a reminder of the sorrow and brokenness of humanity lost in sin before His atoning sacrifice. The Israelites before and the Jewish people today continue to recall that God brought them out of bondage and the miracle of the Passover.

The ongoing celebration of the Mass is very different from the Passover celebration in that it is not a recalling of a one time event but a continuing sacrifice with Jesus as the priest and the victim. We are not celebrating this to recall what we have read or been told but are really and actually at the foot of the Cross with the blessed mother and St. John. In the Bible it says that we are to do this in “remembrance” as it is often translated into English but that same word in Koine Greek is actually “anamnesis” which has no English equivalent. “Remembrance” is a rather crude and awkward approximation of the true meaning of “anamnesis” which denotes a miracle. Recalling something to memory is hardly a divine miracle. So, there is clearly a difference between the ongoing practice of recalling the bondage of Egypt and the command of our Lord to “do this in “anamnesis” of me which we do in the one miracle of the Eucharist. Jesus provides the great feast of His actual Body and Blood in exactly the form, time and place at the foot of the cross as He said. It is completely recognizing the fact that we discern His Body and Blood in the Spirit of faith as He said and not by our human carnal reason as Protestants struggle to do.

In John 6:51 Jesus says that He is the bread from heaven. He is not talking of a huge loaf of bread which all believers must partake but makes it clear that it is His actual flesh that brings life eternal and not a recalling or remembrance of His flesh. Obviously this is a miracle not unlike the miracle of His feeding the multitudes before. The disciples would have believed because they had just witnessed a similar miracle. Also His relating this feast to manna (John 6:49-50) illustrates its temporary sustenance and contrasts it to the enduring nature bestowed by eating His flesh.

“51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

Surely if this was a remembrance or recalling only it would necessitate a killing of another lamb which would not be the self same sacrifice but another symbolic of the first whose blood spread on the entrance to their homes with the hyssop branch saved their first born sons. It was this Old Covenant celebration that necessitated the ongoing sacrifice of the temple which was the only place that the lambs could be slaughtered because only the priests could kill the Passover lamb in remembrance of the real and original sacrifice. It is significant that St. John records, since He was the only one of the Gospel writers present that, Jesus was killed at the exact same time of the representative Paschal lambs at the Temple. This indicated a new ongoing sacrifice once for all times of the New Covenant.

The Eucharist is not a recalling of Calvary. It is not a remembrance of Calvary. Instead, it is the one, same sacrifice with the real Christ as the victim and priest that transcends time and place as the heavenly feast of His real flesh which is the food to endure to final salvation for all mankind. At every Mass we eat the same flesh of our Lord that He served at the last supper and we who abide in Him will continue for all times.


53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.
54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.
56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.
57 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.
58 This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.

In Christ
Fr. Joseph

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