WelCom June 2018:
Mark 14:12-16, 22-26
12 On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb was sacrificed, his disciples said to him, ‘Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?’ 13 So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, ‘Go into the city and you will meet a man carrying a pitcher of water. Follow him, 14 and say to the owner of the house which he enters, “The Master says: Where is the room for me to eat the Passover with my disciples?” 15 He will show you a large upper room furnished with couches, all prepared. Make the preparations for us there.’ 16 The disciples set out and went to the city and found everything as he had told them, and prepared the Passover. 22 And as they were eating he took bread, and when he had said the blessing he broke it and gave it to them. ‘Take it,’ he said, ‘this is my body.’ 23 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he handed it to them, and all drank from it, 24 and he said to them, ‘This is my blood, the blood of the covenant, poured out for many. 25 In truth I tell you, I shall never drink wine any more until the day I drink the new wine in the kingdom of God.’ 26 After the psalms had been sung they left for the Mount of Olives.
The Feast of The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
Today, the church gives us a refresher course on the origin of the Eucharist according to Mark. Passover is the most important day of the Jewish Calendar. It celebrates the time when the Israelites escaped from their 430-year bondage in Egypt. Moses, the Israelite leader, had pleaded with Pharaoh several times to release his people. Eventually Yahweh sent nine different plagues on the Egyptians. The tenth plague was the death of the first born, be they humans or cattle. Before this happened, Yahweh ordained a meal in which the whole community participated. Each home had to take a male hogget, be it a sheep or a goat, slaughter it on the evening of the fourteenth day of the month, then sprinkle the blood on the doorpost or lintel of the house. They were to roast it over a fire then eat the complete beast. It was to be eaten in haste in honour of Yahweh. That night Yahweh was to visit all houses of Egypt striking down the first born of man and beast alike. However, the blood on the Israelite houses indicated where the Angel of Death was to Passover and spare the residents. Because the meal was to be eaten in a hurry, no yeast was to be used as there was no time for the bread to rise. This first Passover meal, was not a substitution for a sacrifice, but food for a journey.
Around one and a half millennium later, we have the second Moses carefully preparing another Passover, but this time it is much more significant. Having sent two disciples to follow a certain man to a house’s owner. They found a suitable location, furnished with the appropriate furniture. Jesus tells them to make the preparations for the Passover there. At Passover meals unleavened bread is shared first followed by wine later. This, however, was the Last Supper; while they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed it then broke it and gave it to His disciples saying, ‘Take this, this is my body.’ Then Jesus took the cup of wine and thanking His Father, He gave the Chalice to His disciples, and after they had drunk from it He said, ‘This is my blood, the blood of the covenant, which is to be poured out for many. I tell you solemnly, I shall not drink any more wine until the day I drink the new wine in the Kingdom of God.’ Wine has replaced the blood of sacrifice and has now become the blood of Christ spilled on the sacrifice of Calvary. This became the new covenant that Christ made with us by His death and Resurrection. Like the first Passover meal, this for us was just not a sacrifice, but a necessary requirement for our life’s journey of salvation, because this eucharist is Christ’s salvific food for each of us.
Tom Gibson is a member of the Immaculate Conception Parish in Stratford.