Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was and is heaven on earth to us. He brought us the perfect love, life and truth of God and offered us the grace and opportunity to partake of that for all eternity. Then He showed us the way there.
I don’t want to get into the discussion of the Last Supper as Passover or not Passover, or New Passover here – but if you are wondering about it, check out the Holy Father’s words on the matter. It seems he has struck theological gold on the matter.
At the Last Supper, Christ gathers His chosen twelve and begins what Dr. Scott Hahn and others have noted as a Passover liturgy. Washing the feet of the apostles, was the work of a servant or slave towards honoured guests. (In those dry and dusty places, having a foot wash meant coming to the host’s table with clean fresh feet, free of the dust of the road) Then having commanded the apostles to serve others likewise (and Judas was sitting there with his ‘non servam’ thoughts) he set about the institution of the Eucharist.
Jesus brings heaven to earth by ensuring, in this liturgy, that He is always with us. He is the bridegroom, and he gives His Body in wholeness to His bride.
He is God and we know from Scripture and elsewhere that when God speaks – so it is. “Let there be light!” God said and there as light, “This is My Body,” said Jesus and it is His Body. St Augustine wrote of the miracle of Christ’s Presence in the bread and wine, how He held Himself in His own hands and offered Himself as the sacrificial priest to the Church.
There is a side issue here, that I have heard asked on Catholic radio by protestants who phone in. How, can Jesus be in His body at the table and offer His body in the bread and wine? The first obvious answer is, “well He’s God,” but that’s a bit flippant. The answer lies in the fact that God is outside of time. He is not bound by either the pagan cyclical time or Christian linear time. He can offer His sacrifice of Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity at the Last Supper because the time is irrelevant. The other answer is that the Holy Eucharist is the Risen Christ, in His Risen (but still with the wounds of His love) Body. We are not receiving a dead body to eat (something the pagans of the time thought Christians were doing – cannibalism), but we receive and eat the Living Christ, in His Body and Blood, just as when St John saw the Mass being said in Heaven, he said that on the altar “the Lamb standing as though slain.” So, the Lamb stands up, because He lives.
When we do His will on earth as it is in Heaven, when we made Heaven on earth it is in the Eucharist, which gives us the grace and life in us that Jesus promised in John 6, so then we can make a little heaven on earth for others.
But of course Judas was there too. It seems he did receive the Eucharist and then left the room to go and betray Christ. Many commentators call those Catholics who receive Christ at Mass and then rush out of church without any thanks, “doing the Judas shuffle.” St Paul warns that those who receive the Eucharist unworthily are guilty of the blood – that means are guilty of murder. We cannot receive the Eucharist unless in a state of grace. Thank God for Confession 🙂
Heaven is a family, and families gather around a table to be fed. God is the Father, Christ the father and brother and He gave us His own mother to be our mother. In establishing His kingdom on the rock of Peter, Christ made the Church a family too. The pope is the Holy Father, our spiritual father, much as St. Joseph became the foster father of Jesus, so now Jesus gave Peter the role of foster father of the Church, who must strengthen his brothers as they too become fathers.
Our Lady is the model of the Church as bride and mother. Into this Jesus gives us His Body as He promised. It is part of the promise “I will not leave you orphans.”
As a family we repeat the words of the centurion, (apparently the revised Mass will have the proper translation at last!) “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof, but only say the Word and [I] shall be healed.” And He does and we are. We get to be right there with Him, consumed by love- and that love of God is heaven.
PS tomorrow is the first day of the Divine Mercy Novena.