An offering … not an Execution!!

Today Maundy Thursday, I offer an extract from Scott Hahn which I mentioned previously in The New Covenant – sealed with the blood of the Lamb.

It is a timely reminder that in focusing on the sacrificial part of the passion of Jesus as if it was a sacrifice willed by God,  we forget the free ‘offering’.  Scott Hahn puts it  so eloquently :

At our remove of two thousand years, it seems natural for us to look upon Jesus’ crucifixion as a sacrifice.  Christians are heirs to a long tradition of talking that way, praying that way, thinking that way.  But first century Jews who witnessed the event would not and could not have seen the crucifixion as a sacrifice.  It bore none of the marks of a sacrifice in the ancient world. On Calvary there was no altar and no credentialed priest.  There was indeed a death, but it took place apart from the Temple, which was the only valid place of sacrifice in Judaism, and even outside the walls of the holy city.

St Paul, however, made the connections for his generation and especially for his fellow Jews.  In first Corinthians, after introducing the word of the cross (1.18) he calls Christ “our paschal lamb” who “has been sacrificed” (5.7).  Thus he makes the connection between the Passover celebrated as the Last Supper and the crucifixion on Calvary.

Indeed, it was that first Eucharist that transformed Jesus’ death from an execution to AN OFFERING.  At the Last supper he GAVE his body to be broken, his blood to be poured out, as if on an altar.

As Paul retold the story of the Last Supper (1 Corinthians  11:23-25)  he spoke of the event in sacrificial terms.  He quotes Jesus as calling it “the new covenant in my blood”, an evocation of Moses words as he made a sacrificial offering of oxen: “Behold (the blood of the covenant” (Exodus 24.8).  It was the sacrificial blood that ratified the covenant, because Moses said so, in one instance, and because Jesus said so in the other.  

Opening paras in Foreword by Scott Hahn in “JESUS and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist. Unlocking the Secrets of the Last Supper”  – Brant Pitre

Sealed by the blood of the Lamb

Sealed with the blood of the Lamb

Today, Maundy Thursday,  the words ‘sealed with the blood of the Lamb’ takes on a new meaning – not as a sacrifice willed by a merciless God who wanted a scapegoat offering, but as blood willingly shed to seal the new covenant of love and reconciliation between God and man.

LOVE transforms suffering into sacrifice!!

Picture Credit: Internet.  Origin or copyright unknown.

 

The New Covenant – sealed with the blood of the Lamb

I’ve searched long for answers to the explanation of the Cross being a bloody and brutal sacrifice of the Son, willed by a merciless Father.  I’ve pondered on it, questioned it, written about it  (see post “Why the Cross and Postscript;  “Paradox of the Cross and Christian freedom“) and prayed about it.

I have read and reflected before … and recognised the parallel between the old Passover and the new viz post : “Can you feel the love tonight“_ but these words I read today answered so many questions I had on ‘The Cross?”,  because it started from a point that I was and took me through to this one statement that was like an eureka moment of greater clarity.

Here is what I read : Continue reading

Communion for the Divorced … how would my Lord answer?

I was really shocked to read that Archbishop Gadecki, President of the Polish Episcopal Conference,had stated that they do not support the notion of admitting divorced and remarried Catholics to the Eucharist.

Yes I know .. this has been one of the most controversial topics at the Synod. And I know the traditionalists are all out to uphold the existing church teaching – but I just could not believe that they can make statements like the following :

“People can participate in different forms and bear witness to the hardships of family life.” Gadecki added that remarried divorcees had the “right to participate” in the life of the Church without receiving the Eucharist.”      How condescending!!

I have a lot of questions on this on his viewpoint  …if anyone cares to respond :

  • Aren’t we failing to practice the precept to ‘forgive seventy times seven’ the mistakes that people make?
  • Aren’t we at odds with our mission to “set the captives free” ?  i.e. set free those who have been bound by human weakness in graceless marriages?
  • Does ‘if your eye offends you pluck it out’, have any application to marriages that are a source of ‘un-grace’ – even a disgrace of the sacrament of marriage?
  • Aren’t these doctrines advocated by Gadecki – and written on Phylactories – to the precept that ‘salvation of souls is the supreme law’? 
  • In trying to uphold the sacrament of marriage, aren’t we guilty of withholding from persons the primordial sacrament, of Jesus in the Eucharist?

I penned a personal reflection some time ago on withholding the Sacrament from children …which is apt too for this subject of Communion for the divorced.

How would my Lord Answer?

We say that we are receiving the Body of our Lord;
That we receive his Real Presence at the table of the Eucharist.  
Can someone tell me , why then do we exclude little children from the banquet?

I know what the Church teaches: 
That we are receiving the Body of Christ;
That children should understand what they are doing …
That they should have respect for “the host”
That they may not understand, and desecrate It,
Even, spit it out.

When Adults, with full knowledge, deliberately  
and maliciously spat on him, He spoke …
“Father forgive them, they know not what they do.”
Would not these words extend to innocent children? 
And yet we hold their lack of knowledge against them.

I ask myself,  “Are adults any better than children?
Can we really, give due respect to the Body of Christ –
… respect that is worthy of our Lord? 
Can I ever receive the Blessed Sacrament in a worthy manner?

If I cannot, how can I withhold the Sacrament from the innocent children?

We feed our children, sometimes force feed them, with 
food for physical nourishment when they are young.
Even though they may not know what it is they drink or eat
We still ensure that they get their daily diet. 

Why then do we not give them spiritual nourishment
in the same manner … ?
but wait until we have “prepared” them
to receive the Lord?
Why do we not “share” our Lord with them at the banquet?
Can you answer why ?  

I know many of the answers that I will be given:
Church teaching, catechetical instruction, doctrine  etc  
But I am not convinced and I still ask for explanation.

If my Lord were here in human form right now,  I know
I would rush with all my nieces and nephews  …
To place them in His arms
Without waiting till they are prepared to “receive Him”
For IT IS HE WHO RECEIVES THEM !!!  welcomes them, embraces them.

But at the Eucharistic table, I “shoo” them away,
For they are not yet “ready”;  they have to “be prepared” !!
To receive the Lord “worthily”
When it is really He and only He
Who can make us worthy of Him.

So I ask myself … If my Lord was standing beside me
At the Eucharistic table and I asked him
“Shall I give Thee to these little children?”
What would His answer be?

Today, if my Lord were standing in front of me, I would point to the latest Report on the Synod and ask him again … “My Lord … can we give thee to Divorced and re-married people.”

I think I know how my Lord would react. I think I would see him bend down and write in the sand.

Jesus writing in the sand

John 8:6-11

Credit picture : new.rejesus.com.uk