We celebrate the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Christ, in obedience to his commandment: “Do this in memory of me”. But what does “do this in memory of me” mean?
Bible readings Genesis 14: 18–20 Psalm 110: 1–4 1 Corinthians 11: 23–26 Luke 9: 11–17
What we do at the Eucharist
Paul, in the 2nd reading, writes: “Every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are proclaiming his death.” But then, in order to have an insight of what “do this in memory of me” means we should ask ourselves: what do we do at the Eucharist? Is it about consuming?
Eucharist, from Greek word, means thanksgiving. We say thank you to God for the salvation he offers us through his son. In the Eucharist Jesus who offers himself to us, as food and drink, as sign of his self-giving love. Then, we realise that acting in remembrance of his self-giving should be more than pious presence at mass. There’s more to it. John gives us an idea.
I have set an example for you
The synoptic Gospels: Mark, Mathew and Luke speak explicitly about Jesus giving bread and wine to his disciples, saying: “This is my body… this is my blood.” We don’t find that in the Gospel according to John. His camera focuses on something else: Jesus washing the feet of his disciples, the humble service, after which he exhorts the disciples: “I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you” (Jn 13:15). This widens our way of understanding “Do this in memory of me”. Where there’s self-giving love, especially humble service; there are proclaimed the death and the resurrection of Jesus.
But I can’t!
There are times when we have the intention of doing good, yet, we just find ourselves feeling not capable. We feel we lack what it takes to accomplish that good action we want to do. It’s the experience of the disciples in the Gospel too.
They come to Jesus, asking him to let people go so that they can buy themselves food. But Jesus tells them, “You yourselves give them something to eat” There’s no reason to task the disciples as not being kind enough. They know the magnitude of the need, and how little the is the means at their disposal. So, we can understand their proposal: to let the people go so that they can find for themselves something to eat. But what Jesus does is quite revealing.
Jesus takes the little they have, eyes raised to heaven, he says thank you to the Father for those few loaves of bread and fish. As if saying, the little we have comes from you; and this is what we are going to share. Regardless of what we have, abundant or meagre, we have a choice to make in life: to be complaining ceaselessly or to live in thanksgiving.
Indeed, partaking the Eucharist in memory of Christ, is taking part in his self-giving love; it’s taking part in raising our eyes to heaven, presenting to God our littleness, confident that he will transform our fragility in great gesture of love. When we assume an attitude of gratitude, there’s enough to go around for everyone from the little we have.
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