Adoro te devote, latens Deitas , we shall continue to sing with the Angelic Doctor. Before this mystery of love, human reason fully experiences its limitations. One understands how, down the centuries, this truth has stimulated theology to strive to understand it ever more deeply. There remains the boundary indicated by Paul VI: The saving efficacy of the sacrifice is fully realized when the Lord's body and blood are received in communion. We are reminded of his words: Jesus himself reassures us that this union, which he compares to that of the life of the Trinity, is truly realized.
The Eucharist is a true banquet , in which Christ offers himself as our nourishment. When for the first time Jesus spoke of this food, his listeners were astonished and bewildered, which forced the Master to emphasize the objective truth of his words: This is no metaphorical food: Through our communion in his body and blood, Christ also grants us his Spirit. He who eats it with faith, eats Fire and Spirit Take and eat this, all of you, and eat with it the Holy Spirit. The acclamation of the assembly following the consecration appropriately ends by expressing the eschatological thrust which marks the celebration of the Eucharist cf.
The Eucharist is a straining towards the goal, a foretaste of the fullness of joy promised by Christ cf. For in the Eucharist we also receive the pledge of our bodily resurrection at the end of the world: This pledge of the future resurrection comes from the fact that the flesh of the Son of Man, given as food, is his body in its glorious state after the resurrection. The eschatological tension kindled by the Eucharist expresses and reinforces our communion with the Church in heaven.
It is not by chance that the Eastern Anaphoras and the Latin Eucharistic Prayers honour Mary, the ever-Virgin Mother of Jesus Christ our Lord and God, the angels, the holy apostles, the glorious martyrs and all the saints. This is an aspect of the Eucharist which merits greater attention: The Eucharist is truly a glimpse of heaven appearing on earth. It is a glorious ray of the heavenly Jerusalem which pierces the clouds of our history and lights up our journey. A significant consequence of the eschatological tension inherent in the Eucharist is also the fact that it spurs us on our journey through history and plants a seed of living hope in our daily commitment to the work before us.
Theirs is the task of contributing with the light of the Gospel to the building of a more human world, a world fully in harmony with God's plan. Many problems darken the horizon of our time. We need but think of the urgent need to work for peace, to base relationships between peoples on solid premises of justice and solidarity, and to defend human life from conception to its natural end.
It is in this world that Christian hope must shine forth! For this reason too, the Lord wished to remain with us in the Eucharist, making his presence in meal and sacrifice the promise of a humanity renewed by his love. It is this fruit of a transfigured existence and a commitment to transforming the world in accordance with the Gospel which splendidly illustrates the eschatological tension inherent in the celebration of the Eucharist and in the Christian life as a whole: The Second Vatican Council teaches that the celebration of the Eucharist is at the centre of the process of the Church's growth.
At the same time in the sacrament of the Eucharistic bread, the unity of the faithful, who form one body in Christ cf. A causal influence of the Eucharist is present at the Church's very origins. By analogy with the Covenant of Mount Sinai, sealed by sacrifice and the sprinkling of blood, 38 the actions and words of Jesus at the Last Supper laid the foundations of the new messianic community, the People of the New Covenant.
The Apostles, by accepting in the Upper Room Jesus' invitation: From that time forward, until the end of the age, the Church is built up through sacramental communion with the Son of God who was sacrificed for our sake: Incorporation into Christ, which is brought about by Baptism, is constantly renewed and consolidated by sharing in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, especially by that full sharing which takes place in sacramental communion.
We can say not only that each of us receives Christ , but also that Christ receives each of us. He enters into friendship with us: Indeed, it is because of him that we have life: From the perpetuation of the sacrifice of the Cross and her communion with the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist, the Church draws the spiritual power needed to carry out her mission. The Eucharist thus appears as both the source and the summit of all evangelization, since its goal is the communion of mankind with Christ and in him with the Father and the Holy Spirit.
Eucharistic communion also confirms the Church in her unity as the body of Christ. Saint Paul refers to this unifying power of participation in the banquet of the Eucharist when he writes to the Corinthians: Saint John Chrysostom's commentary on these words is profound and perceptive: It is the body of Christ. And what do those who receive it become? The Eucharist reinforces the incorporation into Christ which took place in Baptism though the gift of the Spirit cf.
The joint and inseparable activity of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, which is at the origin of the Church, of her consolidation and her continued life, is at work in the Eucharist. This was clearly evident to the author of the Liturgy of Saint James: The gift of Christ and his Spirit which we receive in Eucharistic communion superabundantly fulfils the yearning for fraternal unity deeply rooted in the human heart; at the same time it elevates the experience of fraternity already present in our common sharing at the same Eucharistic table to a degree which far surpasses that of the simple human experience of sharing a meal.
The seeds of disunity, which daily experience shows to be so deeply rooted in humanity as a result of sin, are countered by the unifying power of the body of Christ. The Eucharist, precisely by building up the Church, creates human community. The worship of the Eucharist outside of the Mass is of inestimable value for the life of the Church.
This worship is strictly linked to the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. It is pleasant to spend time with him, to lie close to his breast like the Beloved Disciple cf. How often, dear brother and sisters, have I experienced this, and drawn from it strength, consolation and support! This practice, repeatedly praised and recommended by the Magisterium, 49 is supported by the example of many saints.
Particularly outstanding in this regard was Saint Alphonsus Liguori, who wrote: A Christian community desirous of contemplating the face of Christ in the spirit which I proposed in the Apostolic Letters Novo Millennio Ineunte and Rosarium Virginis Mariae cannot fail also to develop this aspect of Eucharistic worship, which prolongs and increases the fruits of our communion in the body and blood of the Lord.
The Eucharist too is one and catholic. It is also holy, indeed, the Most Holy Sacrament. But it is above all its apostolicity that we must now consider. It is in continuity with the practice of the Apostles, in obedience to the Lord's command, that the Church has celebrated the Eucharist down the centuries. At various times in the two-thousand-year history of the People of the New Covenant, the Church's Magisterium has more precisely defined her teaching on the Eucharist, including its proper terminology, precisely in order to safeguard the apostolic faith with regard to this sublime mystery.
This faith remains unchanged and it is essential for the Church that it remain unchanged. The Eucharist also expresses this sense of apostolicity. The assembly gathered together for the celebration of the Eucharist, if it is to be a truly Eucharistic assembly, absolutely requires the presence of an ordained priest as its president. On the other hand, the community is by itself incapable of providing an ordained minister.
This minister is a gift which the assembly receives through episcopal succession going back to the Apostles. It is the Bishop who, through the Sacrament of Holy Orders, makes a new presbyter by conferring upon him the power to consecrate the Eucharist. The Catholic Church's teaching on the relationship between priestly ministry and the Eucharist and her teaching on the Eucharistic Sacrifice have both been the subject in recent decades of a fruitful dialogue in the area of ecumenism.
We must give thanks to the Blessed Trinity for the significant progress and convergence achieved in this regard, which lead us to hope one day for a full sharing of faith. Nonetheless, the observations of the Council concerning the Ecclesial Communities which arose in the West from the sixteenth century onwards and are separated from the Catholic Church remain fully pertinent: The Catholic faithful, therefore, while respecting the religious convictions of these separated brethren, must refrain from receiving the communion distributed in their celebrations, so as not to condone an ambiguity about the nature of the Eucharist and, consequently, to fail in their duty to bear clear witness to the truth.
This would result in slowing the progress being made towards full visible unity. Similarly, it is unthinkable to substitute for Sunday Mass ecumenical celebrations of the word or services of common prayer with Christians from the aforementioned Ecclesial Communities, or even participation in their own liturgical services. Such celebrations and services, however praiseworthy in certain situations, prepare for the goal of full communion, including Eucharistic communion, but they cannot replace it.
The fact that the power of consecrating the Eucharist has been entrusted only to Bishops and priests does not represent any kind of belittlement of the rest of the People of God, for in the communion of the one body of Christ which is the Church this gift redounds to the benefit of all. If the Eucharist is the centre and summit of the Church's life, it is likewise the centre and summit of priestly ministry.
Priests are engaged in a wide variety of pastoral activities. If we also consider the social and cultural conditions of the modern world it is easy to understand how priests face the very real risk of losing their focus amid such a great number of different tasks. The Second Vatican Council saw in pastoral charity the bond which gives unity to the priest's life and work.
Their daily activity will thus become truly Eucharistic. The centrality of the Eucharist in the life and ministry of priests is the basis of its centrality in the pastoral promotion of priestly vocations.
It is in the Eucharist that prayer for vocations is most closely united to the prayer of Christ the Eternal High Priest. At the same time the diligence of priests in carrying out their Eucharistic ministry, together with the conscious, active and fruitful participation of the faithful in the Eucharist, provides young men with a powerful example and incentive for responding generously to God's call.
Often it is the example of a priest's fervent pastoral charity which the Lord uses to sow and to bring to fruition in a young man's heart the seed of a priestly calling. All of this shows how distressing and irregular is the situation of a Christian community which, despite having sufficient numbers and variety of faithful to form a parish, does not have a priest to lead it.
Parishes are communities of the baptized who express and affirm their identity above all through the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. But this requires the presence of a presbyter, who alone is qualified to offer the Eucharist in persona Christi. When a community lacks a priest, attempts are rightly made somehow to remedy the situation so that it can continue its Sunday celebrations, and those religious and laity who lead their brothers and sisters in prayer exercise in a praiseworthy way the common priesthood of all the faithful based on the grace of Baptism.
But such solutions must be considered merely temporary, while the community awaits a priest. The sacramental incompleteness of these celebrations should above all inspire the whole community to pray with greater fervour that the Lord will send labourers into his harvest cf. It should also be an incentive to mobilize all the resources needed for an adequate pastoral promotion of vocations, without yielding to the temptation to seek solutions which lower the moral and formative standards demanded of candidates for the priesthood.
It is not by chance that the term communion has become one of the names given to this sublime sacrament. The Eucharist thus appears as the culmination of all the sacraments in perfecting our communion with God the Father by identification with his only-begotten Son through the working of the Holy Spirit. With discerning faith a distinguished writer of the Byzantine tradition voiced this truth: Saint Teresa of Jesus wrote: The celebration of the Eucharist, however, cannot be the starting-point for communion; it presupposes that communion already exists, a communion which it seeks to consolidate and bring to perfection.
The sacrament is an expression of this bond of communion both in its invisible dimension, which, in Christ and through the working of the Holy Spirit, unites us to the Father and among ourselves, and in its visible dimension, which entails communion in the teaching of the Apostles, in the sacraments and in the Church's hierarchical order. The profound relationship between the invisible and the visible elements of ecclesial communion is constitutive of the Church as the sacrament of salvation. Consequently it is an intrinsic requirement of the Eucharist that it should be celebrated in communion, and specifically maintaining the various bonds of that communion intact.
Only in this way do we have true communion with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Keeping these invisible bonds intact is a specific moral duty incumbent upon Christians who wish to participate fully in the Eucharist by receiving the body and blood of Christ. The Apostle Paul appeals to this duty when he warns: Saint John Chrysostom, with his stirring eloquence, exhorted the faithful: The two sacraments of the Eucharist and Penance are very closely connected.
Because the Eucharist makes present the redeeming sacrifice of the Cross, perpetuating it sacramentally, it naturally gives rise to a continuous need for conversion, for a personal response to the appeal made by Saint Paul to the Christians of Corinth: If a Christian's conscience is burdened by serious sin, then the path of penance through the sacrament of Reconciliation becomes necessary for full participation in the Eucharistic Sacrifice.
The judgment of one's state of grace obviously belongs only to the person involved, since it is a question of examining one's conscience. However, in cases of outward conduct which is seriously, clearly and steadfastly contrary to the moral norm, the Church, in her pastoral concern for the good order of the community and out of respect for the sacrament, cannot fail to feel directly involved.
The Eucharist, as the supreme sacramental manifestation of communion in the Church, demands to be celebrated in a context where the outward bonds of communion are also intact. It is not possible to give communion to a person who is not baptized or to one who rejects the full truth of the faith regarding the Eucharistic mystery. Christ is the truth and he bears witness to the truth cf. The ecclesial communion of the Eucharistic assembly is a communion with its own Bishop and with the Roman Pontiff.
The Bishop, in effect, is the visible principle and the foundation of unity within his particular Church. As Saint Ignatius of Antioch wrote: Hence the great truth expressed which the Liturgy expresses in a variety of ways: The Eucharist creates communion and fosters communion. Saint Paul wrote to the faithful of Corinth explaining how their divisions, reflected in their Eucharistic gatherings, contradicted what they were celebrating, the Lord's Supper. The Apostle then urged them to reflect on the true reality of the Eucharist in order to return to the spirit of fraternal communion cf. Saint Augustine effectively echoed this call when, in recalling the Apostle's words: The Eucharist's particular effectiveness in promoting communion is one of the reasons for the importance of Sunday Mass.
I have already dwelt on this and on the other reasons which make Sunday Mass fundamental for the life of the Church and of individual believers in my Apostolic Letter on the sanctification of Sunday Dies Domini. The safeguarding and promotion of ecclesial communion is a task of each member of the faithful, who finds in the Eucharist, as the sacrament of the Church's unity, an area of special concern. More specifically, this task is the particular responsibility of the Church's Pastors, each according to his rank and ecclesiastical office. For this reason the Church has drawn up norms aimed both at fostering the frequent and fruitful access of the faithful to the Eucharistic table and at determining the objective conditions under which communion may not be given.
The care shown in promoting the faithful observance of these norms becomes a practical means of showing love for the Eucharist and for the Church. In considering the Eucharist as the sacrament of ecclesial communion, there is one subject which, due to its importance, must not be overlooked: I am referring to the relationship of the Eucharist to ecumenical activity. We should all give thanks to the Blessed Trinity for the many members of the faithful throughout the world who in recent decades have felt an ardent desire for unity among all Christians.
Let me do a grand summary in conclusion on what we have done so far. Having surveyed each occurrence of the word, diatheke in the New Testament, it will be appropriate to draw together some common themes related to the covenant idea in the Synoptics, Acts, Paul, and Hebrews. Now, let me just draw an implication here. There is exegesis that suggests that God never had in view the blessing of the Gentiles in the forming of them into the Church in the Old Testament, but that the Abrahamic Promises are always and only intended for the physical descendants of Abraham who believed.
What you hear me describing is a form of a Dispensational exegesis. It cannot not account for this New Testament pattern which is uniform. Those Abrahamic promises are fulfilled in Christ and they are for all who are followers of Christ whether Jew of Greek. The Abrahamic Promises come to rest on all of these. Second, in the Synoptics, Paul, and Hebrews, the New Covenant established in the blood of Christ is identified as the fulfillment of the New Covenant prophecy in Jeremiah Third, the Synoptics, and Hebrews, interpret the death of Christ in light of the Covenant inauguration ceremony of Exodus Fourth, in the Synoptics, Acts, Paul, and Hebrews, the covenant idea is explicitly linked with forgiveness of sins.
Let me just come back again and draw a conclusion from that. Do you see why, again, we say that Covenant Theology is just the Gospel? I mean, can you preach the Gospel without addressing the forgiveness of sins? So Covenant Theology is at the heart of preaching the Gospel of the free forgiveness of sins through the costly work of Christ. Fifth, throughout the New Testament writings, diatheke is best rendered covenant. There are perhaps, two passages, where it is possible to render diatheke differently: But even there, the preferred rendering is covenant.
For each of them, the New Covenant is vastly superior to the old. When they are contrasting the new redemptive economy to the old, they represent the era before Christ, in the form of the Mosaic economy. Seventh, Paul tends to stress discontinuity between the Mosaic economy and the new, between the letter and spirit, while emphasizing continuity between the Abrahamic Covenant and the new, promise and fulfillment. On the other hand, Hebrews while acknowledging continuity between the Abrahamic Covenant and the new, displays both continuity and discontinuity with regard to the Mosaic and New Covenants.
For the author of Hebrews, the New Covenant, not only sets aside the Old Covenant order, it fulfills it. And proleptically invested it with meaning. It is appealed to in the Synoptics, Acts, Paul, Hebrews, and Revelation, as an adequate expression of the relationship between God and His people established by the work of Christ. In both Hebrews, and Paul, the covenant relationship transcends the temporal characteristics of the Mosaic administration and finds its ultimate realization in face to face communion with the God of the New Covenant.
And so, for the New Testament theologians, the covenant idea is inextricably tied to the death of Christ. His blood inaugurated the New Covenant, and without that blood shed, there would have been no New Covenant. Now that is the barest of surveys of the New Testament as to explicit references to the term covenant. Can you imagine what we would come up with if we did a more extensive search of ideas connected to covenant. The only reason I wanted to go through that long exercise, not only does it give you a rich resource to work from as you preach the Gospel from the New Testament, but it reminds us of just how pervasive the covenant idea is in the New Testament and when you think about the Gentile character of so many of the early converts to Christianity and to those receiving these letters, it is all the more remarkable that the covenant idea is so woven throughout the New Testament.
Now, to Luke I want you to look closely at this narrative, beginning in verse But behold, the hand of the one betraying Me is with Me on the table. For indeed, the Son of Man is going as it has been determined; but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!
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Let me remind you that the place where Jesus was standing when He delivered these words on the night in which He was delivered up, was packed with redemptive historical significance. David, when he had taken the census of his people in pride, and the Lord had determined to send the avenging angel to punish David and Israel for their pride and trusting in fighting men and in horses and in human might, had offered up a thank sacrifice on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite in II Samuel chapter God had spared Israel, you will recall. Seventy thousand had already died. But God spared Jerusalem.
Fourth, in the Synoptics, Acts, Paul, and Hebrews, the covenant idea is explicitly linked with forgiveness of sins. This amazement should always fill the Church assembled for the celebration of the Eucharist. He has sworn an oath in establishing Him as our Mediator, and that is something you never did with the Old Covenant priests. Father downloaded a parable for me to share with you on today. We notice you are using a browser version that we do not support.
And so David offered a sacrifice. You remember the incident, Ornan wanted to give him the field. The temple mount in Jerusalem is on Mt. Moriah, the same place where the angel of death had withheld his hand from Jerusalem, the same place where Abraham had offered up Isaac in obedience to the Lord and where a substitute had been found for Isaac. And here we are at the Last Passover in Luke 22, verses This is the end of the old covenant sacrament of Passover.
I want to point out three or four things to you that are striking about Jesus in this passage. First of all, look at the words of verse 15 very closely. Christ genuinely earnestly has been anticipating sitting down to this Passover feast with His disciples, even though He knows what it is going to cost Him. He knows that when He sits down to eat this meal with them, He is less than twenty-four hours away from the most fearful event that has ever occurred in the history of the universe. And yet He says, I have eagerly, I have earnestly desired to eat this meal with you.
And in the hours to come, they would flee, Matthew tells us, they would all depart from Him and He would be left alone. Matthew 26, verse Then all the disciples left Him and fled.
His hour of need. All the disciples left Him and fled. Can you imagine what it must have been like for the inspired author, Matthew, to have to pen those words about himself? Does that impact how you perceive the love of Christ for you? He knows your heart and all its ugliness and all its sin. And He not only goes to the tree for you, but He desires to sup with you. Now as painful as that is to think about, it is also comforting.
Because if He know what I am like, and He knows what I will be like, and He still desires to sup with me, can there be anything of which I am afraid? Can there be anything that separates me from the love of God in Christ? Thirdly, again, in verse 15, we see here a reminder. This was not an accident. He did not simply fall into the hands of the Romans.
He did not simply fall into the hands of the Jews. This is not a great cosmic glitch. This is not something that God did not foresee. This is not something that He did not foresee. He told us this would happen. You see what an encouragement this would be to them. How discouraging it would be to them for this to happen and not to have been warned. They were faithless enough as it is. Fourthly, in verses , we see a glorious pledge of Jesus Christ to all His people. Here, He expresses His complete commitment to our redemption.
Christ asserts here that He will not eat that Supper until total salvation has been visited on all His people. And there is an interesting passage, and I just want to share it with you in passing, found in Luke 12, when Jesus is telling the disciples to be ready for His coming and He says this about the Marriage Feast of the Lamb. Now, I want you to see the rich investment of that chapter. You remember the great controversy of the Upper Room was whether Peter would allow the Lord Jesus to wash his feet at the table. Peter was struck by the inappropriateness of the Lord, his maker, his master, his Savior, washing his feet in the manner of an oriental slave.
And Jesus is saying to His disciples, this is not the last time I will serve you. I will serve you in the Marriage Feast of the Lamb. You will recline at the table. The Bridegroom himself will serve His people. And you will be there, friends, if you trust in Christ. Now remember the disciples still have the taste of the Passover lamb in their mouths.
And Christ takes bread and breaks it, and He says something that had never ever been said before at a Passover meal. Not for fourteen hundred years had anything like this ever been said at a Passover meal. When He says, this is my body, which is given for you, do this in remembrance of me, in verse 19, what does He mean? Jesus is standing in front of them. They clearly understood the representative nature of what He was saying. He was no more saying that the bread has turned into His body, than He meant that He was a gate, or that He was a door, when He used that type of representative language in the Gospels.
He is standing before them and the purpose of doing this is to do what? To explain the meaning of what He was going to do tomorrow. Because all their preconceptions about what Christ was here for and about the kingdom of God were going to brought to nothing. And Jesus is absolutely determined to explain to them again the meaning of what was going to happen, the meaning of His death, the meaning of His sufferings, and the theological, the redemptive historical significance of what He was going to do. But at the same time, we need to understand that the broken bread here and the body which is going to be killed, is directly corollary to the bruised, to the crushed servant of Isaiah His body will be metaphorically broken for the sake of His people.
By His stripes, we shall be healed. By His death, we shall be raised to newness of life. Furthermore, the vicarious, the substitutionary nature of His actions are stressed. This is My body which is given for you. You can just call me a Disciple of Christ. Merry Christmas Blessings to each of you. In honor of our beautiful guest of honor, I would like to share a poem I wrote after Christmas You're my peace, my joy and most definitely my everything. Jesus the sweet lamb of God Lion of the tribe of Judah. Breaking Free from the Spirit of Saul.
Play Fair or Come inside the House. Father downloaded a parable for me to share with you on today. It is obediently released as it was imparted in the love and grace of the Father. Do you remember back in the day when during the summer months children. The Father's Plumbline Is Irrevocable. Today, there is a Strategic Open Heaven. Tap into the flow and stream of the Father on today. Give Him liberty to flow and move through you. There is a harvest of souls that have been positioned for such a. Special Message to those with Book Assignments.
In The Coming Days. Keep your eyes and ears open in the coming days. Everything is not what it appears to be. Be lead by the Holy Spirit.
Father God is moving swiftly. Stay on your post. Released from the Cocoon. Wisdom Nugget for those called to write in the Christian book genre. For those called to write in the Christian book genre know that you are called to meet a need that Father God want to address.