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Darryl P.


Fr. G. O. Diwa
3 October 2015


A study of the Eucharist necessarily entails tracing its roots in the New Testament where
we encounter the one who instituted it, Jesus. The rootedness of the Eucharist in the New
Testament is briefly examined in the article Contemporary Reading of the New Testament
Texts. This paper shall discuss the summary of the article, then try to elucidate the significance
of the Eucharist in the Christian life.
The article is divided into three sections: (a) the meaning of the memorial command in
the supper narrative; (b) the use of historical master images in interpreting the significance of
what is remembered; (c) the relation of the Eucharist to Christian life and to Christian identity.
Let us discuss these sections in brief.
The meaning of the memorial command in the supper narrative. The memorial
command, Hoc facite in meam commemorationem, found its way into the liturgy from the
Antiochene tradition. It is found in the Last Supper accounts of Paul (Corinthians) and of his
disciple Luke. This memorial either refers to the ritual character of the act of putting to memory,
or to the communitys memory of the event. In the first case, memorial would refer to cultic
acts, while the other to the memory of the believers about Gods salvific actions. In either way,
the Jewish concept of memorial is indispensable for understanding the Christian concept of
memorial, since, in the early Church, there was no abrupt break from the Jewish religious
customs towards uniquely Christian ones (this, as history demonstrates, happened gradually).
The Christian memorial is based on Jewish memorial which includes six features:
First, memorial, and thus, worship is an ordinance from God, as in the commandment to
keep the Pasch, the rituals in the temple, the calendar of feasts, and the like. Second, it is a
covenant relationship with God as the initiator. Third, remembrance is not only on the part of the
people, but also, on the part of God who sustains the worshipan assurance that he has
remembered his covenant. Fourth, remembrance is integral to the covenant with God, thus
rendering worship to be continual praise of Gods saving deeds. Fifth, in all acts of worship,
there are recurrent elements like narrative of Gods deeds, recital of Gods command to keep

memory, prayer of blessing, and ritual actions.

Last, memorial has an eschatological tint,

pointing to the consummation of Gods promises.

Beyond these points, however, exegetes make nuances of opinions to what kind of
memorial is employed in Christian and Jewish traditions.

Of note here is the prophetic

remembrance by which the acts of God are not only recited to be remembered but are opened up
into a wider perspective of being interpreted towards the future. A bell rings here regarding the
eschatological element of memorial. This kind has paradigms in biblical books such as in
Nehemiah and Psalms. From here, we can trace the development of Christian memorials from
the New Testament by pointing out historical master images used in it.
The use of historical master images in interpreting the significance of what is
remembered. Though the memorial command is chiefly connected to the Last Supper, it is
inevitable that Christian tradition would also anamnesize the whole Christ event, and not only
dwell on remembering that supper, taking to account the prophetic element of memorial, pointing
not only on a particular salvific event, but also on events before and after it. Doing this in his
memory, then, reminds us of Gods covenant, the pasch, the suffering servant, and sacrifice.
These are called historical master images. These images give density to the words of Jesus in the
Last Supper. Historical master images are those used throughout tradition in connection with an
ongoing series of events both interpreting and linking, by adding new insight, an event to other
events in salvation history, both past and future.
Let us briefly analyze these historical master images. First, the Eucharist is a covenant,
as seen in the reference of Jesus to it as new and everlasting covenant for you and for
many, taking as pattern the covenant with Abraham and at Sinai. Second, it recalls the Passover
by being built within the history of the Jewish people, calling to mind the coming of the Messiah
which has a transformative effect in history. Third, it recalls the suffering servant through the
image of the blood poured out for many, presenting Jesus as giving his all for mankind. Lastly, it
is presented as a sacrifice, linking the supper to the Cross.
The relation of the Eucharist to Christian life and to Christian identity. From here,
we can see the link of the Eucharist in the New Testament texts to the Christian life. First,
keeping Christs memory is founded not only in celebration but also in actions of mutual love.

Second, the communion in worship is complemented by being in communion with the

community through service. Third, the Eucharist can challenge people to look through their
social structures, and see it in the light of what is fitting to what the Eucharist demands of them.
Lastly, it gives more value to human suffering by linking it to the Cross.
It is around these four links that we shall try to expound beyond the article. Let us try to
develop in brief here an idea of how the Eucharist can shape Christian life. The article has
shown that the Eucharist in the New Testament is a memorial of Christ in which the present is
linked to the promises God made to his people in the past, further promises a greater future, and
transforms the life of those who still await the consummation of these promises. Let us take
these into consideration as we try to grasp here the significance of the Eucharist to Christian life
First point here rests on the Eucharists being a memorial of Christs self-giving love for
mankind. This compels Christians to love one another as he has loved us. The Eucharist is the
best example of how Christ loved us to the end. In the Exodus, so that God would be close to his
people, he willed that he be given a tent among the tents of the Qahal, a typology pointing to
what Christ shall do. In the kenosis of Christ, he himself has pitched his tent among us as John
narrates in his prologue, becoming like us in all things but sin. Then, he associated himself
with the poor and sinners, bringing to fulfilment the healing of the people of God. As an ultimate
act of love, he sacrificed himself by yielding to a most shameful death on a cross. And to
remember that his love is seen on the Cross and his Resurrection, he left us a memorial of
himself, taking the form, not anymore of sinful man, but of bread so often taken for granted but
always needed. In the Eucharist, God humbles himself to the extreme. This is much of an act of
love. This same love explains why many people take on themselves inconveniences just to
assure their loved ones of the many good things in life. To the Christian life, the Eucharist is a
motivation to love.
But loving is not enough. It is best put into action, as the trite saying goes. Here, we
arrive at the second point: the Eucharist stirs our consciences to serve others. The Eucharistic
service leads us from the table of the Lord to serving at table for those most in need of our
service. The Eucharist is the most potent reason for us to dedicate ourselves to services such as

Sunday schools and clinics, and other social services because it is what Christ himself did:
nagpadilat sa bulag, sa pilay ay nagpalakad, at nakiramay sa lahat.
This service to other people opens up our minds to critically analyzing our own regard for
others. Here is an example. There was a rich seminarian who was given an apostolate to a
remote village in the mountains. He resented being there. He hated the absence of conveniences
and the simplicity of life there. However, the people of that village were very kind and friendly,
looking after one another with utmost concern, aside from being truly devout. After a months
stay there, he changed his perspective of these people, and liked the life in that village. He
realized that rich people are no different from poor ones, and at times, the poor ones are better
than everybody else. The Eucharist not only makes us love and serve, but also reminds us of
Christs critical stand of the society of his time where the poor and the sinners are demarcated,
and his example of forgiving acceptance which tells us to change our lives for the better. The
same demarcation exists to this time. The Eucharist is exhortation enough to follow Jesus
example. Here, lives are transformed by the Eucharist.
But the Eucharist not only transforms lives, but also promises a different kind of life,
which is that of heaven.

Et future gloriae nobis pignus datur, says the hymn Sacrum

Convivium. Looking forward to such a promise renders the Christian more hope that after the
sufferings of this life, there comes eternal happiness. The Eucharist points out not only to the
Cross but also to the Resurrection, giving a pledge that the same is in store for us. Looking
forward to this reward makes suffering not a meaningless punishment but a formative
experience. John Paul II, in Salivifici doloris, exhorts Christians to unite their sufferings with
that of Christ so as to be sharers in its redemptive effects. This is most evident to us when we see
the Eucharist pointing to the Resurrection also in store for us.
We see thus in this short paper the significance of the Eucharist in the Christian life by
seeing it in the light of reading the New Testament, it being formative and transformative for the
followers of Christ.