The Celebration of the Christian Mystery
The “cup of blessing”
at the end of the Jewish Passover meal
adds to the festive joy of wine an eschatological dimension: the
messianic expectation of the rebuilding of Jerusalem. When Jesus
instituted the Eucharist, he gave a new and definitive meaning to
the blessing of the bread and the cup.
The miracles of the multiplication of the loaves, when the
Lord says the blessing, breaks and distributes the loaves through
his disciples to feed the multitude, prefigure the superabundance
of this unique bread of his Eucharist.
The sign of water turned
into wine at Cana already announces the Hour of Jesus’ glorifica-
tion. It makes manifest the fulfillment of the wedding feast in the
Father’s kingdom, where the faithful will drink the new wine that
has become the Blood of Christ.
The first announcement of the Eucharist divided the disci-
ples, just as the announcement of the Passion scandalized them: “This
is a hard saying; who can listen to it?”
The Eucharist and the Cross
are stumbling blocks. It is the same mystery and it never ceases to be
an occasion of division. “Will you also go away?”:
question echoes through the ages, as a loving invitation to discover
that only he has “the words of eternal life”
and that to receive in faith
the gift of his Eucharist is to receive the Lord himself.
The institution of the Eucharist
The Lord, having loved those who were his own, loved
them to the end. Knowing that the hour had come to leave this
world and return to the Father, in the course of a meal he washed
their feet and gave them the commandment of love.
In order to
leave them a pledge of this love, in order never to depart from his
own and to make them sharers in his Passover, he instituted the
Eucharist as the memorial of his death and Resurrection, and
commanded his apostles to celebrate it until his return; “thereby
he constituted them priests of the New Testament.”
The three synoptic Gospels and St. Paul have handed on to us the
account of the institution of the Eucharist; St. John, for his part, reports the
words of Jesus in the synagogue of Capernaum that prepare for the
164 Council of Trent (1562): DS 1740.