Take It: This Is My Body
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ Jesus,
‘While they were eating, [Jesus] took bread, said the blessing, broke it, 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.”’
Jesus gives us Himself in the Eucharist. He offered Himself to God the Father as the ransom for our sins, and now we participate in that sacrificial act whenever we receive Him in the Eucharist. We eat and drink of the Gift offered in the new and eternal covenant.
The sacrifices offered at the temple under the Mosaic Law were offered for the remission of sin and to remind the people of their covenant with God. These offerings prefigured the perfect offering of Jesus on the Cross, and the bread and wine offered by Jesus at the Last Supper were the fulfilment of these ancient symbolic offerings. By offering Himself, Jesus fulfills the old covenant in a real and permanent way. By commanding us to “do this in memory of me,” Jesus makes that one-time offering timeless and eternal. By uniting the Eucharistic sacrifice with His self-offering on the Cross, Jesus made it possible for us to take part in the one Eucharist He began almost 2000 years ago. Because Jesus is God, this one offering, made in time, was also an action greater than what time itself could contain. We can speak in the present tense of the offering at our altar here and now as the same offering Jesus made in the upper room on the outskirts of Jerusalem so many years ago.
Because the Eucharist is an event that takes place both in Heaven and on Earth, we are united in it with heaven’s eternity and with every other celebration of the Eucharist in human history. Christ offered one sacrifice for all people and for all time, and we who participate become one Body of Christ in the Communion of Saints. This Eucharist you receive today is His Body and Blood—the same Body and Blood shared by the disciples at the Last Supper, the same Body that was beaten, scourged, mocked, and hung upon the Cross and Blood that was shed over the whole course of Our Lord’s Passion.
We receive Jesus, and when we do so with open and properly disposed hearts, we become what we receive. “By his wounds we are healed,” and we become eternal like Him; we become holy like Him; we become His Body for the world. May we imitate what we celebrate and truly be transformed by the mysteries we receive here today.
Peace in Christ,
Father Matthew Kuhn