Today’s video offers a brief and condensed explanation of Holy Week, a time in the liturgical calendar very rich in meaning and symbols. It is important that we continue to deepen in the meaning and the reality that lie behind these symbols.

This Holy Week, we are invited to participate with our whole being: mind, heart, and body. This means that we must first seek to continually improve our understanding of these mysteries. Then, allowing our hearts to be awoken and transformed by the love that they announce, we must welcome the impulse that this provides and go out sharing and living in the world as Christ did.

A Deeper Look

“Do this in memory of me.” Luke 22:19 NRS

In this, his command to his disciples, what does Jesus want us to do? “This” points to his entrance to Jerusalem where Jesus accomplished his Paschal Mystery – his passion, his death and his resurrection. From Caesarea Philippi, Jesus began to teach his disciples about his identity and mission, “The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again” (Mark 8:31 NRS, and again in 9:31 and 10:33-34). In Jesus, word and action go together: he brings to fulfillment both the promises of the Old Testament and his own words.

In as much as his Paschal Mystery is celebrated in the context of the Passover (see Exodus 12:43ff), then the celebration has a specific context, that of a meal and that of a sacrifice. As a meal, we hear Jesus giving Peter and John this instruction, “Go and prepare the Passover meal for us that we may eat it” (Luke 22:8 NRS), and at table, Jesus shared with his disciples “a loaf of bread” (Luke 22:19 NRS) and “a cup” (Luke 22:17 NRS).

And mingled with the meal is its sacrificial nature, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God” (Luke 22:15-16 NRS). The bread Jesus offered them at the meal would be his body on the cross: “Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you’” (Luke 22:19 NRS). The cup Jesus offered them at the meal would be his blood shed on the cross: “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20 NRS).

 “Do this in memory of me.” Luke 22:19 NRS

In Jesus, the Passover meal and sacrifice takes on a new and radical meaning for the Lamb of God is Jesus Christ: “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29 NRS). Moreover, not only is he the Lamb of God, Jesus too is the High Priest, who alone is “holy, blameless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens” (Hebrews 7:26 NRS).

With Jesus, we need not use another animal for sacrifice: he is the perfect sacrificial lamb, and we need not appoint another high priest: all priesthood shares in his one priesthood – Jesus alone mediates between God and man. Therefore, it is his sacrifice and it is his mediation that we as his Church do in our act of remembering.

Do this in memory of me.” Luke 22:19 NRS

The event of Jesus’ last Passover meal and his sacrifice on Calvary is unique and cannot be repeated: “this he did once for all when he offered himself” (Hebrews 7:27 NRS). Then why do we, Catholics, celebrate the mass every day and obligate ourselves to active participation in the Sunday Eucharist? Simple response: that we pray the very words of Jesus, “Do this in memory of me” in every Eucharistic Prayer at Mass signifies not the repetition of the meal and sacrifice but a remembering, a re-presentation – a making present, in the here and now, what happened, once for all, two thousand years ago, in the Upper Room and on Calvary.

And paying attention to these words of consecration in the Third Eucharistic Prayer:

“Look we pray, upon the oblation of your Church and, recognizing the sacrificial victim by whose death you willed to reconcile us to yourself, grant that we, who are nourished by the Body and Blood of your Son and filled with his Holy Spirit, may become one body, one spirit in Christ,”

we realize the profound truth in the phrase, “the Eucharist makes the Church.” That we eat the Body of Jesus and drink his Blood continually transforms and makes us the new people of God redeemed by His Son in the Holy Spirit. Therefore, no other gathering outside the mass, however powerful the praying be – individual or communal – can do what takes place at mass. 

In fidelity to these words of Jesus and what he handed on to the Apostles, and to what the Apostles faithfully transmitted to the successive generations of Christians, may we, present-day disciples, continually celebrate the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ:

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking for the bread and the prayers… Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved” Acts 2:42, 46-47 NRS.

Fr. Edison T.