The Sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist: "The source and summit

of the Christian life" [L.G. 11]

By Rev. Fr. Oliver Onah

A land dispute once erupted between two Romans. The case was submitted for litigation to His Majesty, the Holy Roman Emperor, Otto. The Emperor asked the plaintiff to cost the exact dollar equivalence of the piece of land in question. The cost of the land was pegged at thirty five million US dollar ($35m).

Then the Emperor asked the plaintiff, "Supposing I give you the said dollar equivalence, will you legally release the land to the defendant"? "Yes of course since the two are of the same value", answered the plaintiff.

The case was amicably resolved and permanently concluded when the wise Emperor made a cash donation of the said dollar to the plaintiff who collected the dollar while the defendant took possession of the land and both went home rejoicing.

Our Lord Jesus Christ walked the path of this earth for about 33 years. He couched the mystery of his death severally in parables before his disciples. On one occasion, Peter practically demonstrated his disenchantment with the development by chopping off one of the ears of Marcus, a servant of the high priest.

When the hour came for him to be glorified, he made the matter Crystal clear to his disciples especially when they were at table. To show how aggrieved the disciples were at hearing this, Peter was reported to have said that he would even die with him, that nothing would happen to Jesus.

They were assailed by palpable fears that our Lord comforted them thus: "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me" (Jn 14:1).

The truth is that as the disciples were very sorrowful and helplessly disconsolate about Christ's departure from their midst, the joys of the heavenly Angels and Saints to whom Christ was about to meet knew no bounds. (For 33 years they had been missing Him. Some would have died of love of Him if they were in flesh).

To settle both parties (on earth and in heaven) amicably, He instituted his full presence with us the Church militant, the pilgrim people of God, under the guise of Bread and Wine (His Body and Blood, the most Holy Eucharist, the Tremendous Mystery- mysterium tremedum, the Food of the Angels) as a memorial of Him while the same full presence of Him is restored in heaven for the beatific gaze of the Angels and Saints.

The eloquent moving words of the Second Vatican Council on this are worthy of reproduction here: "At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood. This he did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the Cross throughout the ages until he should come again, and so to entrust to his beloved Spouse, the Church, a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a paschal banquet in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us" (S.C. 47).

The institution (cf Matt 26:26-29) was the climax of His actions before His salvific death. The mission of the Church to bring God the Trinity to the People of God reaches its maximum in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. For in the Eucharistic celebration, the invisible God is made visible through the sacramentality of the Holy Eucharistic species (achicha na mmanya) transformed into the supernatural Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

In this way, the loving God the Trinity is brought to the People of God; the People of God are in intimate union with God the Trinity and neighbourliness is established among the People of God. The three are made evident in the one divine Person of the Incarnate Son of God, who by Incarnation is "God-with-us"; through His Paschal Mystery, He is the Redeemer and through His continued operation from heaven, He is by the power of the Holy Spirit, the bond of neighbourliness.

Thus, the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is the salvific Word of all words, the Sacrament of all sacraments and the redeeming Sacrifice of all sacrifices. It is a privilege of inestimable honour to reflect on this all-important rung on the ladder of our salvation.

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