Gospel Reading: Mk 14:12-16, 22-26
On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples said to him, “Where do you want us to go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” He sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city and a man will meet you, carrying a jar of water. Follow him. Wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?” ’ Then he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready. Make the preparations for us there.” The disciples then went off, entered the city, and found it just as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover.
While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many. Amen, I say to you, I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it new in the Kingdom of God.” Then, after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
The passover and the eucharist
Before Jesus meets his death, he asks his Apostles to prepare the Passover meal. Annually the Jews celebrate the Passover to commemorate their liberation from slavery in Egypt. The men are required to go to Jerusalem. They follow an outline of the celebration. It is called Passover Seder, like the Catholic Order of the Mass.
The First Reading describes an Exodus event after the giving of the Ten Commandments. Moses informs the people about the laws from God, and the people express their willingness to obey. They all agree with God by promising to do everything God has said. So then Moses sprinkles the blood of animals on the people to ratify the covenant. That makes them a covenanted people of God.
In this context of the celebration of the Passover and the giving of the covenant, Jesus institutes the Eucharist, as described in the Gospel. He takes bread and wine, turning them mysteriously into his body and blood. Jesus replaces the old covenant with the new covenant in his blood, poured out for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus asks to celebrate the Eucharist to keep his memory alive.
The Second Reading declares the greater efficacy of the Eucharist: the blood of animals cannot forgive sins; only Jesus’ blood can.
We Christians value supremely the celebration of the Body and Blood of Christ. It can speak for all that we can say about our faith. The Eucharist relates to our birth, life, journey, sufferings, sins, struggles, death, and salvation. The perennial challenge is to prepare ourselves for participating more meaningfully at each Eucharist.
* * *
SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2018,” ST. PAULS Philippines, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.