The Eucharist – Our First Rite After RCIA
The Lord’s Supper
He knew what was going to happen. In a few hours, He would be beaten, tortured, and hung from a cross. They were there to celebrate Passover, but He knew His life was coming to an end. One last time, He sat down with His disciples to share a final message.
“He said to them, ‘I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer, for, I tell you, I shall not eat it (again) until there is fulfillment in the kingdom of God.’ Then, He took a cup, gave thanks, and said, ‘Take this and share it among yourselves; for I tell you (that) from this time on, I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’ Then, He took the bread, said the blessing, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.’ And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you.'” -Luke 22:15-20 NAB
Facing death, Christ remained steadfast. Despite knowing His own fate, He accepted what would happen next. He accepted that He would give up His life so that ours might be spared.
The Lord’s Supper. Holy Communion. The Breaking of the Bread. The Mass. No matter how we refer to it, the Eucharist symbolizes the sacrifice that Christ made for us at the cross. When we participate in Mass, we are honoring the memory of our Lord. We give honor to His death. He commanded that we participate in the Lord’s Supper so that we would not forget the depths of His love. He loves us so much that He was willing to give it all.
A New Covenant
Several thousand years ago, God made a Covenant with Israel. A Covenant is an agreement or contract. So, God had a contract with the Jewish people, and He promised to make them a great nation. Which He did. Unfortunately, as humans, the Jewish people were not always the greatest at keeping their end of the bargain. Knowing they could never truly live up to their end of the deal, God spoke through the prophets about the Messiah, someone who would come and redeem the Jewish people.
Christ, the Messiah, came to redeem the people of Israel. With Him, He brought a New Covenant. This New Covenant would make God’s grace available to everyone. Instead of making sacrifices and giving offerings, the people of Israel simply had to choose to accept Christ’s offering on their behalf. Eventually, this went beyond Israel and throughout all the nations of the world.
The Body and Blood
The New Covenant, that was given to the world, was sealed with the body and blood of Christ. His body and blood are present in the bread and wine of the Eucharist. Unlike many denominations, the Catholic Church believes in transubstantiation. In other words, the real body and real blood of Christ are present in the Eucharist. Beyond mere representation, the actual substance changes to the body and blood of Christ.
As a new Catholic, I struggled with this myself, but I learned that the Church is taking it from a direct, literal translation of the text. Many will debate, and a few will believe. With entire books written on the subject, I can only scratch the surface of the topic. It is a subject that requires prayer and study. Speak with a priest. Open your mind. I did. Now, I believe.