On this Monday of the Fourth Week of Lent, I continue my journey through Scott Hahn’s book, Lenten Reflections from A Father Who Keeps His Promises.
When Moses came down from Mount Sinai to deliver the Law as God promulgated it, the Israelites answered with one voice:
“We will do everything that the LORD has told us.” Ex. 24:4.
In essence, the Israelites acknowledged their Covenant with the Lord. How was this occasion marked?
In modern times an informal arrangement may be consummated with a handshake. We often call these arrangements “gentlemen’s agreements.” More formal relationships require more intricate formalities. Some types of contracts require a written document signed by the parties. Often when the president signs a law, he may do so in a signing ceremony.
And when Japan surrendered to end World War II, they did so in an elaborate signing ceremony on board the USS MISSOURI, with Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu signing for Japan and General of the Army Douglas MacArthur signing for the Allies.
Ceremonies for events such as a surrender or passage of a significant bill serve a larger purpose than just the immediate act involved; ceremonies memorialize the events and remind all participants the gravity and significance of the events.
So, when Moses brought God’s Laws and the Israelites assented, what ceremony marked the beginning of the Covenant?
Then, having sent young men of the Israelites to offer burnt offerings and sacrifice young bulls as communion offerings to the LORD, Moses took half of the blood and put it in large bowls; the other half he splashed on the altar. Taking the book of the covenant, he read it aloud to the people, who answered, “All that the LORD has said, we will hear and do.” Then he took the blood and splashed it on the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which the LORD has made with you according to all these words.” Ex. 24:5-8.
Thus began the Covenant between God and His people.
So when Christ brought His people into the New Covenant, how did He mark the occasion?
While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.” Mark 14:22-24.
Every time we celebrate the Liturgy of the Eucharist, we are transported back in time to the very moment Christ first instituted this most holy Sacrament. As one priestly blogger noted, “we are not recreating or enacting a Last Supper but are present at the life death and resurrection of Our Lord – are present at THE Last Supper.”
Every Mass is an opportunity to rejoin Christ and His disciples in the Upper Room.