The Holy Eucharist-A A +A
The Living Spirit
Saturday, October 5, 2013
IN ORDINARY parlance we call the Holy Eucharist the Mass. We say that we go to Mass and also go to Communion. Then we celebrate the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.
But what is really the Holy Eucharist? The Eucharist is a memorial, a remembrance of the Last Supper that Jesus had with his Apostles. And what happened really at that Last Supper? We must put that story of the so-called Last Supper in context, in the context of the time of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus was a Jew and according to Jewish tradition the Jews celebrated at the beginning of the Jewish New Year the Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Yom Kippur is the culmination of 10 days of penitence which begin with the Jewish New Year (Rosh ha Shana). For the Jews this was a period, not of a jolly and loud celebration of the New Year, but it was a sober introspection of repentance for all the wrongdoings of mankind.
According to the teachings of the early Christian Church, Jesus instituted at that moment the sacrament of the Priesthood and the sacrament of the Eucharist, the Holy Mass. He gave to his Apostles and to all their followers the power to change the bread and the wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. For us Christians also it places the crucifixion of Jesus present on the altar and the Crucifixion of Jesus is the great act of atonement of Christ in the history of mankind. His death becomes in effect an act of atonement on behalf of mankind, of all those who believe in him.
In fact, I believe, Jesus spent the evening before his arrest together with his Apostles, in the belief that this evening could be the last evening of his life. And so, when he took the earthly bread in his hands he identified himself with life itself and he expressed in this act his deep trust in life. When he took the cup, it was for him the cup of his life, of his dedication to everything that was holy for him. And this act he turned over to the people who were with him at table and who were going to survive him. He did not talk to them about his death on the cross but he talked about life and the future of mankind. He did not talk about sacrifice or sin but about staying together with each other until the end of time. He did not after three days rise from the tomb but at that very moment he resurrected from the dead right there on that evening in the midst of his Apostles.
That is why all that talk today in the Church about rules and regulations, that empty talk about priests saying Mass all over the place like a Mass-machine and distributing hosts to the people or even denying the host, in some cases, is really offensive and even sacrilegious. This ‘in memory’ to him, this memorial has become a cult of clerics, an altar ritual by which many church-goers feel alienated and being excluded.
In my previous column I have said that we must go back to essentials when it comes to our Christian faith. Faith without works is useless. We must put into practice what we believe in. The Eucharist is the act of atonement of Christ for the sins of mankind and when we celebrate the Eucharist we must continue that act of atonement in our own life. That means, to make sacrifices for the common welfare of people, especially the poor and the exploited.
If after our going to Mass we forget all about that and continue to be an egoist and indifferent to the suffering of the poor, that is blasphemy and we must stop that. It has hardly anything or rather nothing at all to do with Jesus of Nazareth and his act of atonement for mankind. It defiles greatly that sacred moment of Jesus’ Departure and his going back to the Father and his leaving that Testament, that sacred memorial, to us Christians, his people. [Email: email@example.com]
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on October 06, 2013.