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Eucharist - Intro

July 7, 2012

I want in my sermons-articles to discover the beauty of the Eucharist and its roots / both in the Jewish tradition, the culture of the early Christians, as well as the history of the Church. Let there be not merely intellectual knowledge, but leading to an increasing love of the Mass and by faith and love to open the mystery of the Eucharist, in that presence of the Risen Lord.

Introduction - Sources of knowledge about the Eucharist

The first and primary source of our knowledge of the Eucharist is the Bible. Some parts of the Bible promise and others describe the establishment of the Last Supper.

Note, however, that before the Bible was written, the Apostles and early Christians / gathered for years in prayer and the breaking of bread.

We know only from the Acts of the Apostles that Christians:

- Devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching
- They were characterized by their fraternity, and
- An important element of the liturgy of the Eucharist, was the breaking of bread

Moreover, the letter of St. Paul tells us, that the liturgy of the Eucharist was presided over by a specified person: an Apostle or his representative.

The facts from the Bible show / that the Eucharist is most important. The essential elements of the Eucharist are:

- The bread and cup of wine
- Thanksgiving and blessing
- The breaking of bread
- Transforming the bread and wine
- Giving their followers to eat

The next piece of Scripture referring, that the celebration of the Eucharist is a meeting of Apostles, walking to Emmaus with the risen Christ. Jesus explained to them the Scriptures and then they got to know him in the breaking of bread. You can see, therefore, in this situation, the liturgy of the word association with the liturgy of the Eucharist - the two parts of the Mass today.

The doctrine of the Eucharist was born in Judaism or Jewish environment. This doctrine migrated to the Greek communities / and then infiltrated and spread in areas / with the Latin or Roman culture.

1. Jewish community

Since the Eucharist is derived from Judaic traditions/environment, it is not surprising that its impact is significant. It is visible primarily in concepts used, vocabulary and the same rite.

It is expressed, for example, in the concept of covenant and sacrifice, which were combined and determined what the Eucharist is. This covenant was understood in the Old Testament. It was not to affiliate relationship of equals (as in the pagan religions). In this case, the covenant is independent of anyone or anything. It is the will of God, sharing with people his love, mercy, justice and truth. That covenant was sealed and affirmed in the Blood of Christ - Blood of the Covenant. Here you also see is the connection to Jewish tradition, which was an essential element of sacrifice to God (and especially the sacrifice of the Passover lamb).

Also, many used phrases such as "eat the Passover", "fruit of the vine", "took the cup and gave thanks," "until the kingdom of God comes," etc., has its Jewish origins.

This is also the origin of the habit of reading the texts of Scripture, the recitation or singing of psalms, the content of certain prayers and blessings and the word "Amen" ending prayer.

2. Greek Environment

At the time of Christ, the Apostles began the process of rooting Christianity in the Hellenistic world - that is Greek.

In the liturgy of the Eucharist and the doctrine of the Greek influences are also visible in the concepts used and in their meaning. For example:

In Hebrew, both: the meat and the human body, has the some word: "Basar".

The New Testament uses two Greek words: "sarx" - which, in relation to man emphasizes his worldliness, corporeality, temporality and transience, and "soma" - which shows more of the personal characters of man. Biblical authors speak of the Eucharistic Body using the word "soma", speaking of the Incarnation of Christ and used the term "sarx".

3. Environment Roman

Palestine in Jesus' day was part of the Roman Empire, and Jews in the Diaspora also had their clusters in Rome / and other cities of the empire.

While the eastern empire dominated Hellenic culture, Latin influences were also evident.

For example, Latin influence developed the idea of the Eucharist as a sacrament, advocated a transformative effect on the body the bread and wine into the Blood of establishing the Eucharist of Christ's words. Latin influence also emphasized the role of the priest as "alter Christus" – “Second Christ” in the Eucharist.

Fr. Tony, Pastor