1st Reading: 2nd Chronicles 36:14-16, 19-23
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 137:1-6
2nd Reading: Ephesians 2:4-10
Gospel: John 3:14-21
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No. 1. “Because it is the memorial of Christ’s Passover, the Eucharist is also a sacrifice. The sacrificial character of the Eucharist is manifested in the very words of institution: “This is my body which is given for you” and “This cup which is poured out for you is the New Covenant in my blood.” In the Eucharist Christ gives us the very body which he gave up for us on the cross, the very blood which he “poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” — Catechism of the Catholic Church no. 1365
No. 2. “The Eucharist is the memorial of Christ’s Passover, the making present and the sacramental offering of his unique sacrifice, in the liturgy of the Church which is his Body. In all the Eucharistic Prayers we find after the words of institution a prayer called the anamnesis or memorial.” — Catechism of the Catholic Church no. 1362
No. 3. The Passover now marks time. “This month will stand at the head of your calendar; you will reckon it the first month of the year.” (vs. 2)
No. 4. The insistence on the details reveals how important this is to God. “Tell the whole community of Israel: On the tenth of this month every family must procure for itself a lamb, one apiece for each household. If a household is too small for a lamb ...” (vss. 3 onward)
No. 5. The sacrifice is connected to a meal. “This is how you are to eat it ...” (vs. 11)
No. 6. The event and meal are to be remembered forever; memorialized forever. “This day will be a day of remembrance for you, which your future generations will celebrate with pilgrimage to the Lord; you will celebrate it as a statute forever” (vs. 14)
No. 7. “I’m serious about the Passover meal … do it … do it every year … and don’t mess with it.” (God) “for anyone, a resident alien or a native, who eats leavened food will be cut off from the community of Israel. You shall eat nothing leavened; wherever you dwell you may eat only unleavened bread. … You will keep this practice forever as a statute for yourselves and your descendants. Thus, when you have entered the land which the Lord will give you as he promised, you must observe this rite” (vs. 25)
No. 8. The passover event
> “Your lamb must be a year-old male and without blemish”
> “You shall not break any of its bones”
> “Blood of the lamb” ... will ‘set them free’
> The sacrifice is not complete until the sacrifice is consumed. You must eat the flesh of the lamb
No. 9. At the time of Jesus > lambs had to be sacrificed in the Temple. “In the original Passover, the lambs were sacrificed and eaten in the homes of the Israelites in Egypt. At the time of Jesus, the lambs had to be sacrificed in the Temple and eaten in the city of Jerusalem. Moreover, in the original Passover, every Israelite father was able to offer sacrifice on behalf of his family. But at the time of Jesus, only the Levitical priests could pour out the blood of the lambs on the altar. This restriction of the Passover sacrifice to the Jerusalem Temple is laid down by God in the Torah: ‘You may not offer the Passover sacrifice within any of your towns which the Lord your God gives you; but at the place which the Lord your God will choose, to make his name dwell in it, there you shall offer the Passover sacrifice, in the evening at the going down of the sun, at the time you came out of Egypt. And you shall boil it and eat it at the place which the Lord your God will choose. (Deuteronomy 16:5-7)” — Brant Pitre, Ph.D., Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist
No. 10. At the time of Jesus > because of the Temple ... Jews understood the Passover meal as a sacrifice. “First, it is clear that the Jewish Passover is not just a meal, but a ‘sacrifice’ (Hebrew zebah). It is “the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover” (Exodus 12: 27; Deuteronomy 16: 5). Second, like every other blood sacrifice at the time of Jesus, the Passover lamb could only lawfully be offered in one place: the Temple in Jerusalem, where God had chosen to make his name dwell. This link between the Passover and the Temple is important to emphasize. If you were a Jew living at the time of Jesus, in order to keep the Passover feast, you could not simply go down to the local market and buy a lamb to be killed and eaten privately in your own home. You first had to take the lamb to the Temple in Jerusalem and give it to an ordained priest to sacrifice it. It is for this reason that during Passover the city of Jerusalem would be brimming with Jewish pilgrims coming to the Temple to offer sacrifice.” — Brant Pitre, Ph.D., Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist
No. 11. At the time of Jesus > 250,000 lambs ... that’s a lot of blood ... 2,000 years ago Jews understood the Passover meal as a sacrifice. “Even if somewhat exaggerated, this is a staggering figure: more than two hundred thousand lambs for some two million people! For the modern reader, who probably has never witnessed a single animal sacrifice, much less several thousand in one day, it is difficult to imagine just how much blood would have been poured out by the priests at Passover. But for ancient Jews, like Jesus and his disciples, who attended Passover every year of their adult lives, it would have been impossible to forget. No one living at the time of the Temple could have ever had any misconceptions about the fact that the first-century Passover was first a sacrifice and then a meal.” — Brant Pitre, Ph.D., Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist
No. 12. At the time of Jesus > the lambs were “crucified” “The second difference between the first exodus and the Passover at the time of Jesus has to do with the way the Passover lamb was sacrificed in the Temple. Fascinatingly, we have evidence that, in the first century A.D., the Passover lambs in the Temple were not only sacrificed; they were, so to speak, crucified. ... As the Israeli scholar Joseph Tabory has shown, according to the Mishnah, at the time when the Temple still stood, after the sacrifice of the lamb, the Jews would drive ‘thin smooth staves’ of wood through the shoulders of the lamb in order to hang it and skin it (Pesahim 5: 9). In addition to this first rod, they would also ‘thrust’ a ‘skewer of pomegranate wood’ through the Passover lamb ‘from its mouth to its buttocks’ (Pesahim 7: 1). ... This conclusion is supported by the writings of Saint Justin Martyr, a Christian living in the mid–second century A.D. In his dialogue with a Jewish rabbi named Trypho, Justin states: ‘For the lamb, which is roasted, is roasted and dressed up in the form of a cross. For one spit is transfixed right through from the lower parts up to the head, and one across the back, to which are attached the legs of the lamb.’” — Brant Pitre, Ph.D., Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist
No. 13. The Passover at the time of Jesus
5 days before ... go and look for the lamb. A one-year-old unblemished male lamb is chosen for the Passover by a member of the household. Jesus enters Jerusalem on Palm Sunday because that’s the day everyone is looking for the lamb!
A. Footwashing: As guests and family members entered the home to celebrate Passover, a servant or slave would often be there to wash their feet.
B. First hand-washing: Once all the guests arrive, they performed the ritual hand-washing that Jews, from antiquity, have done before every meal.
“The Passover meal (Seder) is structured around four cups of wine” — Ignatius Study Bible Commentary, Gospel of Luke
C. First cup: Cup of Thanksgiving — in gratitude for all of creation
> Accompanied with the praise of God as the source of the Exodus
D. Second cup: Cup of Hagadah — retells the story of the Exodus
> Accompanied with retelling of the Exodus story
E. Second hand-washing
F. Prayer over the bread ... then the breaking of the bread
G. Eating of the Passover meal
H. Third cup: Cup of Blessing — consumed at the conclusion of the meal
I. Fourth cup: Cup of Consummation — indicates that the Passover is complete
No. 14. Jesus at the Last Supper
> Luke 22:14-16 — Jesus initiates the Passover meal
> Luke 22:17 — Jesus drinks from the first cup
> Luke 22:20 — Jesus drinks from the second cup
> Luke 22:21 (Matthew 26:23) — Jesus dips his hand (herbs in the salt) in the Seder platee, symbolizing tears of sorrow
> Matthew 26:26 — Jesus strays from the Seder script!
As Rabbi leader of the Seder, Jesus is supposed to say, “Blessed are you, o’ Lord our God, king of the universe, who did feed the entire world with your goodness, with grace, with loving kindness and with pity. He gives bread to all flesh, for His loving goodness endures forever. And in His great goodness, food has not been, and shall not be lacking for us forever and ever, for the sake of His great name; for He is our God, who feeds and supports all, and does good to all, and prepares food for all His creatures, which he did create.”
“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’” - Matthew 26:26
> Matthew 26:27-28 — Jesus strays from the Seder script! again!
As Rabbi leader of the Seder, Jesus is supposed to say, “I will take the cup of salvation and I will call upon the name of the Lord.”
“Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.” Matthew 26:27-28
> Matthew 26:30 — Jesus abruptly ends the Seder ! without drinking the fourth cup, the Cup of Consummation!
No. 15. Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to feel sorrow and distress. Then he said to them, “My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch with me.” He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.” — Matthew 26:36-39
The beauty of the crucified christ on the Cross
> As sacrifice
> As the new Passover
> As the new Covenant
No. 16. The old covenant, the old passover
> Exodus 12:5 > A perfect lamb > “Your lamb must be a year-old male and with out blemish”
> Exodus 12:7 > The blood of the lamb > “They will take some of its blood and apply it to the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it”
> Exodus 12:22 > The sprig of hyssop > “Then take a bunch of hyssop, and dipping it in the blood that is in the basin, apply some of this blood to the lintel and the two doorpost”
No. 17. The New Covenant, the New Passover
> John 1:29 > Jesus, the new lamb > “The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world’”
> John 19:28 > The wine for the forth cup > “After this, aware that everything was now finished, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled, Jesus said, ‘I thirst.’”
> John 19:29 > The hyssop > “There was a vessel filled with common wine. So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop and put it up to his mouth”
> John 19:30 > The New Passover is consummated > “When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, ‘It is finished.’ (consummatum est in Latin = it is consummated) And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit”
No. 18. Execution versus sacrifice
Without the sacrificial meal of the Last Supper the crucifixion would be mere execution rather than sacrifice. It is the Last Supper with the crucifixion that bring fulfillment as the New Passover.
Connecting the Last Supper to the Cross
No. 19. “By celebrating the Last Supper with 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 Resurrection, 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.” — Catechism of the Catholic Church no. 1340
No. 20. “Because it is the memorial of Christ’s Passover, the Eucharist is also a sacrifice. The sacrificial character of the Eucharist is manifested in the very words of institution: “This is my body which is given for you” and “This cup which is poured out for you is the New Covenant in my blood.” In the Eucharist Christ gives us the very body which he gave up for us on the cross, the very blood which he “poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” — Catechism of the Catholic Church no. 1365
Recorded Sunday, March 15, 2015 at Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church in Thibodaux, Louisiana.
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© Fr. Mark Toups, 2015