Eucharist as the Passover of Jesus and His Church (2007)
Jesus through His Passover liberates us. Let us shortly meditate how it is achieved in our lives through the Eucharist.
Jesus, Jewish Passover and the Eucharist
Jewish celebration of Passover in the form we know it now goes back to the times when Israel inhabited the land of Egypt - as far as approximately 4000 years ago. It is interesting how religious Jews from generation to generation until our time have transmitted dynamism and family warmth of the celebration. The feast is consecrated to the praise of God who powerfully liberates his children from slavery and unjust condition of life and work experienced by Israelites among Egyptians. The liberation power of God works in each generation. So Passover, each time it is celebrated, is understood to have liberating effect on those who sit at the paschal table. Jesus knew the Jewish way of celebrating it. Being himself the fulfillment of the Scriptures and Prophets He gave the new and full reality to Jewish Passover. We, His disciples, we call it now the Eucharist.
Family of Jesus - the Church
While Jewish Passover is first of all a family rite, it is very seldom that we find Eucharist celebrated in a family. Jesus did not invite His Blessed Mother and cousins to his last Passover meal as he had done, most certainly, during his years in Nazareth. Making the Twelve sit at the Passover table just before His glorious death and resurrection, Jesus creates the new family: the Church. Family bonds give way to the bonds of the Kingdom. Who is my brother, sister and mother? – Jesus asked once, and replied: those who listen to the word of God and do the will of my heavenly Father. Eucharist – new Passover of the new and everlasting Covenant - is still a family celebration, but the family is different.
The Passover celebration requires that members of a family, who sit together at a table are reconciled with one another. For the family of Jesus this task is not easy. We are not saintly people: a criminal, whom Jesus invited to the Kingdom in the last moment of His earthly life; Mary, a prostitute; Mary Magdalene, a woman possessed by seven demons; Zacheas, a wealthy and unjust superior of publicans... A complete list would be much, much longer - we are all people who did, in one way or another, harm to a neighbor. And now we are invited by Jesus to sit at His paschal table, to break the Bread and drink from one Cup.
Liberating paschal dynamism of the Eucharist
Passover means a powerful passing of the Lord over Egypt. An intervention of God which took place on the holy paschal night of Israel's liberation. Later on, God would renew His loving action each time He saw His children oppressed and heard them cry to Him.
Then He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ. The most holy night of His resurrection is the new and final Passover. Those who are rescued are no longer people from one nation or one family. And it is no longer a lamb that is sacrificed nor mere unleavened bread shared. Jesus says: Take and eat this bread - this is my Body given for you. He himself has become the Passover bread and lamb at the same time. Whenever we break it, we proclaim the death of Jesus and we enter into the mystery of that one Passover night of His resurrection. The dynamism of the new and eternal Passover realizes among us. God passes over the land of our sins and sicknesses to set us free.
Our Amen - yes to the Eucharist
When we have right perception of our own sins - Jesus most certainly invites us to His Eucharist. We see now that the first places there are reserved not for holy men and women but for those who need a doctor. When we say Amen - yes to what is realized during eucharistic celebration the same power of God which raised the Dead Body of Jesus back to life has free way to act in you and me.
Krzysztof Broszkowski OP