To explain the full meaning of the Eucharist in a book is difficult enough, to try and explain it in a page reflection is well nigh impossible! However, let us look at one aspect of the Eucharistic celebration, namely that of sacrifice.
The Eucharist is a sacrifice as well as a memorial. This means that it is not just a remembrance of what Christ did 2000 years ago when He died on a cross and was raised from the dead. In the Mass the sacrifice of Christ made of His life is made present in a real and true way through the Eucharistic species of bread and wine. These are not just symbols of Jesus’ sacrifice – they truly become the body and blood of Jesus, food for our earthly pilgrimage.
The Church has always vigorously defended its understanding of the Eucharist as a sacrifice as it is essential to our understanding of the efficacy of the gift of salvation that Jesus offers us. If the Eucharist were only a commemoration, then we would be in the same position as the Jewish priests having to offer repeated sacrifices in the Temple for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary was a single-once-for-all sacrifice that dealt with sin and its powers forever.
In the Eucharist we celebrate and remember this great event AND it is made present to us in the Eucharistic species in order for us to share in it through Holy Communion and thus be empowered to live as the Children of the Father. This is why the Eucharist is the source and summit of our lives as Christians. Everything we do directs our lives towards union with Christ on the Cross, and in His Resurrection. The Eucharist is also the source of all the grace that enables us to live our lives as disciples of Jesus.
The sacrificial nature of the Eucharist indicates to us the extent of Jesus’ commitment to us. Jesus, the Son of God, sacrificed His life on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven. Jesus did not hold anything back in expressing this commitment. Here is the example upon which we should model our own Christian lives.
Do I really understand, at least to some degree, the meaning of the sacrificial nature of the Eucharist for my life as a Christian? How can I center my life more fully on the Eucharist?
Holy Spirit, continue to open my mind to the meaning of the Eucharist. I want to enter more fully into this celebration of the saving work of God in my life. Help me to center my life more around the daily celebration of the Eucharist.