Wednesday, August 12, 2009
The Covenant heart of the Eucharist
It is the term Covenant that is most deeply rooted in Scripture and that opens up so much breath of spirituality for our souls. It furnishes too, a high and wide horizon for the apostolate.
That is why I have chosen to write these lines for my allocutio to the Legion of Mary.
At the consecration of the chalice, the priest says: This is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. That echoes Moses' words in ratifying the ancient Mt. Sinai Covenant. Behold the blood of the Covenant!
Then he (Moses) took the book of the covenant, and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient. And Moses took the blood and threw it upon the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words
At Mass, we express that same obedience and response to the covenant when we say Amen. When the host is offered and we say Amen, what we are doing is saying our Yes to the Covenant in his blood. This goes beyond the mere reception of a gift. There is a mutual self-giving at the heart of the Sacrament.
No need to be afraid of the term Covenant: Rather, must it be one that comforts and assures us: As we read in Exodus; 19:3-5: You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession.
Covenant comes from the Latin and means coming together, bonding as in marriage: In marriage we have the sharing of gifts and possessions-- this gold and silver, I thee give. But going deeper, it is an exchange and sharing of persons. This is my Body given up for you.
A covenant is not imposed. It has to agreed and entered into. In the Eucharist not only does Christ offer Himself freely and fully, but we are called to reciprocate with the same gift of self. In receiving the Christ's Body in the Eucharist we are entering into a covenant, agreeing to reciprocate that gift. When Jesus gives His body, blood, soul and divinity to us, we give our body, blood, soul and humanity to Him.