In those days, Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine, and being a priest of God Most High, he blessed Abram with those words: "Blessed be Abram by God Most High, the creator of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who delivered your foes into your hand." Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.(P) The word of the Lord.
The Lord said to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand till I make your enemies your footstool." (R)
The scepter or your power the Lord will stretch forth from Zion: "Rule in the midst of your enemies." (R)
"Yours is princely power in the day of your birth, in holy splendor; before the daystar, like the dew, I have begotten you." (R)
The Lord has sworn, and he will not repent: "You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek." (R)
Brothers and sisters: I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, "This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.(P) The word of the Lord.
I am the living bread that came down from heaven, says the Lord; whoever eats this bread will live forever. (R)
Jesus spoke to the crowds about the kingdom of God, and he healed those who needed to be cured. As the day was drawing to a close, the Twelve approached him and said, "Dismiss the crowd so that they can go to the surrounding villages and farms and find lodging and provisions; for we are in a deserted place here."
He said to them, "Give them some food yourselves." They replied, "Five loaves and two fish are all we have, unless we ourselves go and buy food for all these people." Now the men there numbered about five thousand. Then he said to the disciples, "Have them sit down in groups of about fifty." They did so and made them all sit down. Then taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing over them, broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. They all ate and were satisfied. And when the leftover fragments were picked up, they filled twelve wicker baskets.(P) The Gospel of the Lord.
For over two thousand years, the Church has been inviting us to reenact and celebrate the Lord's last supper with his disciples. Some of us take part in the celebration everyday, while some attend every weekend and some others only on special occasions. Let us not argue about how often it was originally celebrated and how often we do now. Instead let us see how best we can honor Jesus Christ. I am afraid, many of us have lost sight of the purpose of the Holy Eucharist. We seem to feel no connection whatsoever with the person of Christ whose body and blood we receive. We tend to regard the Holy Eucharist as a ritual rather than a sacrament to honor and remember Christ. I wonder whether it is because we do not talk to him, listen to Him, believe in him or relate to him like the disciples or the first Christians did.
Some people would say that they attend mass, but many times it is boring and there isn't any message from the priest. But today we are reminded that each time we participate, we have a message to take home. The message is not only from the scriptures or the preaching of the day but also from the Holy Eucharist itself. The act of the Holy Eucharist itself is a message. In his letter to the Corinthians (11:23-26), a part of which we have heard today, Saint Paul reminds us of the message.
The message is that as often as we eat this bread and drink the cup, we remember Jesus Christ and we proclaim his death. If we are asked what we can remember of our Dad, we perhaps would remember his many good qualities such as his kindness or generosity or compassion or patience. So also what can we remember of Jesus Christ? Saint Paul says, "The Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and after he had given thanks, broke it and said, "This is my body that is for you." In the same way he also took the cup, after supper saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this in remembrance of me.""
First and foremost, in our worship, we remember the Lord Jesus. We are not remembering someone ordinary but the Lord Jesus and then we remember our church, the saints, our families, friends and ourselves. When we remember the Lord Jesus, we are reminded of the breaking of the bread. The breaking of the bread refers to the Lord Jesus' broken body, that is, his emotional pain, mental anguish, physical wounds and death on the cross. The gospels describe the suffering of Jesus - He was betrayed, beaten, scourged, spit upon, mocked, stripped naked, nailed to the cross and crucified. But he endured all this suffering because of his love for us. His ultimate sacrifice on the cross is the atonement or the penalty for the sins of the world. He gives Himself in our place so that we might go free without any punishment for our sins. So, each time we receive his body and blood, we are to remember that the Lord Jesus suffered and died so that we might enjoy everlasting life or salvation.
However, remembering is not merely recalling something that happened in the life of Jesus but also consciously recognizing and affirming the significance of the Lord Jesus Christ and his sacrifice. It is important for us, therefore, to remember what Christ has done for us and proclaim it to unbelievers. This message is not something Paul made up, but as he says, "received from the Lord", as if he received the message directly from the Lord. He had not seen Jesus or talked to Jesus or listened to Jesus or heard him but after he encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus, he had no hesitation in believing all that Jesus had said including what Jesus said in the midst of his last meal with his disciples - This is my body and this my blood. If you eat my body and drink my blood, you'll have eternal life. We call ourselves Christians. We profess our faith in him. We hear or read His Word. How best do we honor the Lord Jesus and his message today? How can we tell others, if we ourselves, do not recognize or affirm our faith in his sacrifice?
If we truly believe in the power of his sacrifice and hope to enjoy forever the fullness of grace through the Holy Eucharist then let us do the following:
This way when you honor Christ, the grace of Christ the Lord will be poured out on you generously. Because Jesus says, "In all truth, I tell you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood has eternal life, and I shall raise that person up on the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in that person" John (6:54-56). Because we live in him, we do not have to be afraid of anything or anyone. He guards us from all dangers, tests and temptations. He is our shield and protection.(P) Amen.
God Bless You!