institution of the Eucharist: Christ calls himself the bread of life, come
down from heaven.
Jesus chose the time of Passover to fulfill what he had an-
nounced at Capernaum: giving his disciples his Body and his Blood:
Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the
passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and
John, saying, “Go and prepare the passover meal for us, that
we may eat it. . . .” They went . . . and prepared the passover.
And when the hour came, he sat at table, and the apostles
with him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat
this passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you I shall not
eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” . . . And
he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and
gave it to them, saying, “This is my body which is given for
you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup
after supper, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you
is the New Covenant in my blood.”
By celebrating the Last Supperwith his apostles in the course
of the Passover meal, Jesus gave the Jewish Passover its definitive
meaning. Jesus’ passing over to his father by his death and Resurrec-
tion, the new Passover, is anticipated in the Supper and celebrated in
the Eucharist, which fulfills the Jewish Passover and anticipates the
final Passover of the Church in the glory of the kingdom.
“Do this in memory of me”
The command of Jesus to repeat his actions andwords “until
he comes” does not only ask us to remember Jesus and what he did.
It is directed at the liturgical celebration, by the apostles and their
successors, of the
of Christ, of his life, of his death, of his
Resurrection, and of his intercession in the presence of the Father.
From the beginning the Church has been faithful to the
Lord’s command. Of the Church of Jerusalem it is written:
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellow-
ship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. . . . Day by day,
attending the temple together and breaking bread in their
homes, they partook of foodwith glad and generous hearts.
It was above all on “the first day of the week,” Sunday, the
day of Jesus’ resurrection, that the Christians met “to break
From that time on down to our own day the celebration