Eucharist: Holy Meal, Scott Hahn
We’re going to be focusing on the very center of the faith this morning, and I feel so woefully inadequate because there is just so much to say about the Blessed Sacrament. It’s a sacrament and it’s a sacrifice in which Our Lord Jesus Christ not only establishes a covenant, but really, is the covenant. And the sacrament contains our Lord Jesus Christ, body, blood, soul and divinity; but it’s also an offering. So in the Eucharist Our Lord Jesus Christ body and blood, soul and divinity is offered to the Father continually in an unbloody manner. Then, finally, it’s not just contained. It’s not just offered but it’s received. All three of those elements are crucial to understanding how the Eucharist is both a sacrifice and a sacrament. And when it’s received, we call that Holy Communion. All three of those belong together. They are inseparable. They are critical.
Now we’ve got to say one thing right off the bat. We are talking about an unbloody sacrifice and we are talking about a sacrifice in which Christ’s death is represented. We are not talking about a bloody sacrifice where Christ is still bleeding. We are not talking about the fact that Christ is still dying on Calvary. He’s not dying. He’s been buried. He’s been raised. He’s ascended. He’s enthroned and there he is in glory. But as he is in glory, he is the Lamb of God, enthroned as the Pascal Lamb; and so all of this belongs together in a very deep and mysterious way and I for one do not pretend to think that I can encapsulate or summarize it all adequately.
Now let’s just also remind ourselves of another important theological doctrine. God is omnipresent. God is present everywhere; but Jesus Christ in His humanity, that is the flesh and the blood that He assumed for Himself from the Blessed Virgin Mary, that is only in heaven. That is spatially limited. In addition to its space, to its place in heaven however, we also say that through the miracle of the Mass and the Eucharist, Jesus Christ, not just in His divine nature, which is present everywhere; but in His human nature is present on the altars of the Church around the world as Mass is celebrated daily approximately 300,000 times each day.
So we are talking about the humanity of Jesus Christ which is inseparably united to His divinity. This is done, of course, to establish the New Covenant. Jesus Christ wants to be with us. His name, in a sense, is Emmanuel, God with us. God is with us in such a unique way with the New Covenant that we have to say it’s a completely different kind of covenant because in the Old Testament, the covenants were all preparations.
In a sense, the first time a covenant is mentioned explicitly is with Noah and the covenant is that rainbow. So that covenant prepares for Christ because we see that when the Lamb is enthroned in Revelation 4 and 5, around his throne is that rainbow. Then the next covenant is with Abraham and Isaac and that oath covenant is established in Genesis 22 on Mount Moriah when Abraham was ready to sacrifice his only beloved son, but God stopped him. That covenant was not really completed until Jesus Christ, God the Father’s only beloved firstborn Son went to Moriah to a peak called Calvary and there He was offered. And on it goes.
When Moses led the people out of Egypt and to Mount Sinai and he slew the animals and he took the blood and he threw it upon the people and he said, “This is the blood of the covenant.” Those exact words were taken by Jesus in the Upper Room when he instituted the Eucharist, only to insert the word, “new” covenant, but it’s there, practically verbatim because what Moses was doing was only a symbol or a shadow of what Christ would accomplish.