The Mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist (From the Sacred Scriptures)

By Rev. Fr. Oliver Onah

The Holy Eucharist with its effects is presented in the New Testament as a symbol and cause of union of the believers with Jesus Christ. The Eucharist does this under various aspects:

(1) It is the commemorative sign of the death of our Lord because "when you eat this bread and drink this Chalice, you shall announce the death of the Lord, till his coming in glory" (I Cor 11:26).

Thus, the priests and the faithful People of God when they offer and feed themselves with the Holy Eucharist, they commemorate and renew the death of Christ and on the other hand, they unite themselves perfectly with the same suffering and dying Jesus, to which at Baptism they had been united only incompletely.

We reproduce this theology in our Benediction when the priest says: "O God, who in this wonderful Sacrament, has left us a memorial of thy passion. Help us so to reverence the sacred mystery of thy Body and Blood, that we may effect in our lives the effects of thy redemption ..."

This being the case, it is theologically absurd for some pastors to propagate a pseudo and lopsided theology of prosperity that regards suffering as an evil to be avoided in its entirety and as always coming from the evil one. Hence, the popular slogan today is, 'it is not my portion'.

This understanding has led many to heretical interpretation of the Scriptures. Take for instance, the stickers and labels that sell faster in the market are those with inscriptions like, "No weapon fashioned against you shall prosper" (Is 54:17).

We tend to forget that the weapon of lance fashioned against Jesus actually prospered as it succeeded in piercing his side while he hung on the Cross. It was indeed this act that gave us all, the two great Sacraments namely; the washing Water of Baptism and the Blood of salvation that formed our Eucharistic feast.

This unbridled quest for prosperity has constituted one of the biggest pull factors that attract Catholics to other denominations or even religions. In the same spirit, it is also wrong to attribute all our setbacks and intermittent illness to the activities of our ancestors who worshipped idols due to the limited revelation of God to them (I will develop this thesis later).

Who knows how many of them are uncelebrated saints that are part of the liturgy of All Saints' Feast of 1 November. Suffering is an inescapable part of human existence.

As Christians, we shall rather glory in suffering in the name of Christ because it is a privilege to share in the suffering of Christ. It is even, a greater privilege to reproduce the pattern of his death. That was why St Peter chose to be crucified upside down.

The summary of the point being made here is that the Holy Eucharist is a sign that commemorates and renews the death and resurrection of Christ and at the same time has the virtue of inserting perfectly in the dying Jesus those who communicate themselves in order that they receive abundantly the fruits of the sacrifice of the Cross (A. Piolanti, The Mystery of the Eucharist, 3rd edition, Vaticano 1984, pp. 128-147).

(2) The Holy Eucharist is the sign and cause of the coo-cooperation of all the faithful in Christ (1 Cor 10:17). That is to say, as the Eucharistic bread is one, formed from many grains of wheat pressed to unity, thus, we the faithful People of God, though many, are one only bread, be it one only body, in fact we participate of one only bread, be it we nurture ourselves with the same Eucharistic bread, that has the power to unite us all in the grace and in the love.

(3) The Holy Eucharist is also presented under the figure of maternal nutrition: "I am the living bread that descended from heaven and the bread that I will give is my body for the life of the world" (Jn 6:51). "My Body is true food and My Blood is true drink" (Jn 6:55).

The Eucharist is not an empty figure. It produces for the spiritual life all the effects that the material food causes for the corporal life. The Eucharist in fact, gives life without measure: "If you do not eat the Body of the Son of Man and do not drink his Blood you shall not have in you the life" (Jn 6:53). It communicates that same life which Christ has from the Father- life that is eternal (cf Jn 6:54-57).

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