Answering Famine and Disease 

The Children of Israel appealed to Moses, bemoaning their scarcity of food, escaping Egyptian bondage. God intervened, providing honey-tasting wafers, called manna. Hoarding perishables while roaming across a desert soon shows its futility. The Lord instituted a faithful, just, and daily collection system, to mitigate the starving nation’s plight.[2] Travel advanced for the nation, strengthened gratuitously by a renewed and more equitable distribution system. Settled later in Canaan, the psalmist reminds people of that ancestral migration when the nation consumed God’s very essence under the Holy Spirit’s supervision. “Taste and see that the Lord is good,”[3] Apart from the natural and cultural effects of any wholesome meal, the Eucharistic meal aims to nourish eternal life.

 

A Seder gathering provided the setting for the inaugural Christian Eucharistic meal. Twelve pupils, and perhaps others, gathered around Jesus to consume an annual, emancipatory, and commemorative dinner. The Master declared,

          “I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and                   drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”[4]

Jesus interrupted this banquet to undertake a hospitality related task, commonly assigned to servants. Humility demonstrated by washing others dusty feet, reflects his Father’s humility.[5]  Returning to the table, Scripture describes the Divine Physician taking bread, giving thanks to God, breaking the loaf into pieces, distributing the fragments, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me”.[6] A similar invocation and gesture with a vessel of wine enacted the central Eucharistic moment. Participation in this living mystery offers a foretaste of eternity for believers.  During the upper-room meal, Jesus lays out a blueprint for Christian social gatherings richly steeped in Middle Eastern culture.[7]

Holy Eucharist instituted on the eve of Jesus’ crucifixion completed Incarnation, just as confirmation completes baptism.[8] God’s revelation expressed through Eucharist continues when spiritual and physical become entirely fused. Further, Holy Eucharist grafts participants firmly into God's salvation’s project, instilling the graces necessary to overcome daily suffering and eternal famine.[9] The Catechism of the Catholic Church expounds upon this Eucharistic teaching acclaiming.

          The inexhaustible richness of [the sacrament of the Eucharist, i.e., the “Mass”] expresses itself in              the different names we give it. Each name evokes certain aspects of it. Eucharist is an action of            thanksgiving to God. The Greek words eucharistein and eulogein recall the Jewish blessings                    that proclaim — especially during a meal — God’s works: creation, redemption, and                                    sanctification.” [10]

At the epiclesis, words of consecration, crushed grapes, and unleavened bread, leave behind only their appearances and become the body and blood of Christ.[11] Addressing, the church's Real Presence Doctrine, teachings explain:

         

          Christ should have wanted to remain present to his church in this unique way. Since Christ was            about to take his departure from his own in his visible form, he desired to give us his                                    sacramental presence. Jesus, about to offer Himself on the cross, wanted us to have the                          memorial of the love with which he loved us “to the end, even to the giving of his life. In his                        Eucharistic presence, he remains mysteriously in our midst as the one who loved us and gave              himself up for us, and he remains under signs that express and communicate this love.[12]

The Roman Catholic Church leans comfortably into Augustinian and Thomistic theology linking the nature of sacraments to the above description of the Eucharistic mystery. Preserving this apostolic wisdom represents a significant contribution Catholicism brings to any cause for ecumenism.[13] Five essential themes under the subheadings; sacrament, sacrifice, thanksgiving, memorial, and presence, summarize the Roman Church’s Eucharistic teachings.[14]  The question first raised by “murmuring Jews” near the conclusion of Jesus’ Bread of Life discourse is reiterated by St Augustine who said in sermon 272:

          “So how can bread be his body? Moreover, what about the cup? How can it (or what it                                 contains) be his blood?” My friends, these realities become sacraments because, in them,                       people see one thing while grasping another. What people see is a mere physical likeness;                     what people perceive bears spiritual fruit.[15] 

The suffering that Jesus freely offered represented a non-repeatable act of God’s affection. Still, in the Eucharistic sacrifice and memorial, believers gather to worship and express gratitude. The faithful signed in baptism necessarily reorient towards full life, sustained by God’s generosity. Chosen people renounce shameless hoarding and disproportion consumption of earth’s resources.  Eucharist provides the eternal nourishment that world longs deeply to receive during this pandemic. Pope John Paul II’s (2003) encyclical entitled Ecclesia de Eucharistia, says.

         

          The church draws her life from the Eucharist. This truth does not merely express a daily                              experience of faith but recapitulates the heart of the church’s mystery. In a variety of ways,                    she joyfully experiences the constant fulfillment of the promise: “Lo, I am with you always, to the            close of the age” (Mt 28:20), but in the Holy Eucharist, through the changing of bread and wine              into the body and blood of the Lord, she rejoices in this presence with intensity. Ever since                        Pentecost, when the church, the People of the New Covenant, began her pilgrim journey                          towards her heavenly homeland, the Divine Sacrament has continued to mark the passing of                her days, filling them with confident hope.[16]

 

 

 

 

[1] Voir la page Web 5 pour le résumé et la traduction en français.

[2]Book of Exodus, Chapter: 6. As the great flood of Noah preludes Baptism, so too does the Exodus feed point towards a Christocentric Eucharist and a new Moses.

[3] Book of Psalms, Chapter 34:8. Taste is the key word communicated in this passage describing the sensory appeal by which God wishes to connect with humankind.

[4] The Gospel of Luke, Chapter 22:29-30. Jesus describes pristine relationship with including a meal fit for a king. Again, a reference links the Apostles with the Twelve Tribes of Israel.

[5] From the Letter of St Paul to the Ephesians, Chapter 2:5:8.

[6] The Gospel of Luke, Chapter 22:19. Four key actions of Eucharist are described as, Break Receive, Gift, and Thanks.

[7] The Cenacle “Upper Room” in Jerusalem considered the first church by Roman Catholics. The traditionally believed site of the Last Supper.

[8] From the Gospel of John, chapter, 19:28-30. The last words of Jesus, “it is finished”.

[9] Baptism initiates the Sacramental path and with Confirmation directs believers to Eucharist completing the Sacraments of Initiation. The Church calls Eucharist the “source and summit” of Christian life. Lumen Gentium, Article 11. From O’Connor (page 294-306).

[10] From the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Article 1328.” So much then does God’s love matter that he made it his own, in the Incarnation.” From O’Connor (page 277).

[11]From the Greek term epiclesis, meaning to call down the Holy Spirit.

[12] Catechism of the Catholic Church, Article 1380. Directed from O’Connor (page 291) Modern papacies continue to consistently reiterate some version of this theme.

[13] From St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, Chapter 4:4 “There is one body and one spirit”.

[14] From Sacrosantum Concilium, (1963) Article 6.

[15] Originally from St Augustine, On the Eucharist, Sermon 272. Roman Catholic Eucharistic theology derives equally from Sacred Tradition and Scripture. Doctrine today remain consistent with this Augustinian insight. Directed from O’Connor (page 278). “Quarreling Jews from John 6:52.

[16] From Pope John Paul II, (2003) Ecclesia de Eucharistia, Para1.