The Eucharist . Manna From Heaven . Where did IT START?. As Catholic’s we believe the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Jesus, but how do we know? The word Eucharist literally means thanksgiving bread.
Manna From Heaven
As Catholic’s we believe the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Jesus, but how do we know?
The word Eucharist literally means thanksgiving bread.
In order to understand the Catholic understanding of the Eucharist we have to look at the Jewish tradition.
In the Old Testament there are four main prefigures for the Eucharist.
In the Old Testament there is a figure who is a priestly king. His name is Melchizedek..
This Priest King would sacrifice bread and wine rather than animal sacrifice.
This is significant because it was Melchizedek who gave a blessing to Abraham, the father of all the people of God.
This is so cool!!!
So in the old testament God told Moses to build Him the Ark of the Covenant. The ark was kept in a special tent called the Tabernacle.
Two other things were supposed to be in the tabernacle at all times.
What is interesting is that the bread of the presence is better translated as, “the bread of the Face”.
As Catholics we can immediately see the Eucharistic imagery in this old testament practice. Why???
Because we meet God face to face in the Eucharist!!! It is so crazy!!!
After the Israelites escaped from Egypt they were wandering in the desert without food.
God provided their food through the manna from heaven.
What is interesting about this miracle is that it was a double miracle! Not only did God give them bread from heaven but He also gave them flesh.
In the morning the Israelites would eat the bread and in the evening they would eat the flesh of quail.
Does any of this ring a bell. God giving us the bread of heaven and flesh……
Another cool thing about the manna is that the Jews were expecting the Messiah to give them manna.
“So they said to Him [Jesus], ‘then what sign do you do, that we may see, and believe in you?... Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread form heaven to eat’”. (John 6:30-31)
Finally we get to the most important one. The Passover!
The Passover is when the Angel of death was sent to Egypt to kill the first born.
The Israelites had to perform a ritual in order that the angel would Passover their house.
The ritual that they had to perform was kill an unblemished lamb by bleeding it out. (They could not break any of its bones) The blood was then gathered up and painted on the doors of the Israelites using a hyssop branch.
The ritual didn’t stop there. They had to sit down and have a communion meal. They would eat the lamb that was slain.
This ritual was re-performed every year in remembrance of when God freed them from slavery.
The Jews would have ritual prayers and drinking of libations (wine) during the Passover meal.
One of these rituals was the blessing of the bread and wine.
After the blessings they would eat the paschal lamb. If they didn’t eat the paschal lamb they dud not get passed over.
So it was just as important to eat as to sacrifice the lamb.
One really interesting thing to note is that Jesus said in Matthew 26:29,
“I tell you I shall not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom”.
The reason that is interesting is that the Passover meal had four cups that were part of the ritual. The last cup was drank to end the Passover meal.
When Jesus said He would not drink any more wine until He died, He was saying that the Passover isn’t done yet.
In the new testament John the Baptist calls Jesus the, “Lamb of God”.
Jesus was killed on the same day as the lambs for the Passover were killed; the day of preparation.
None of Jesus’ bones were broken
Jesus was given wine on a hyssop branch