Jesus' Sacrifice and Ours

06-06-2021Weekly Reflection© J. S. Paluch Company

In presenting the still-familiar four-fold "Shape of the Eucharist" — Jesus takes / blesses / breaks / gives (Mark 14:22) — Mark omits Matthew's specification of purpose "for the forgiveness of sins," and Luke's "for the remembrance of me." But Jesus does recall the covenant, Israel's liberation from Egypt's slavery. And could the disciples - or we - fail to recall that, in Mark's earliest verses, "Jesus sits at table with tax collectors and those known as sinners" (2:15)? Mark also emphasizes the Eucharist as our participation in Jesus' passion and pledge of our share in his future glory.

Jesus had earlier referred to his disciples' suffering as "drinking from the but he would drink" (10:38-39). Soon he would beg Abba to "take this cup away" (14:36). But while sharing the Eucharistic cup, Jesus promises a day when he would "drink it new" (14:25): the cup of suffering and sorrow is not the last cup he - or we - will drink, the cup of the Garden of Agony will be transformed into the cup of the Kingdom of God.

Worshiping and Serving

Through both scripture and tradition, Jesus' Eucharistic self-giving challenges us who partake so frequently of the Eucharist (or hope to do so again once the pandemic is past) to become a community of self-sacrificing love that both worships Christ's presence in the Blessed Sacrament and serves Christ's presence in others. In his Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel (Evangelii Gaudium), Pope Francis praises the presence, in so many communities, of groups devoted to prayer and intercession, prayerful reading of God's Word, and perpetual adoration of the Eucharist. But then Pop Francis repeats Saint John Paul II's warning that such personal devotion must never become a privatized, individualistic spirituality that forgets the demands of charity or the implications of Jesus' incarnation (EG, 262). As we receive Jesus' body sacramentally in the Eucharist, so we should touch Jesus' flesh compassionately in the suffering flesh of others (EG, 270).