“DO THIS IN MEMORY OF ME” (Lk 22:19)
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Among many blessings given to us by Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, the most precious and sacred are the Holy Church, the Blessed Virgin Mother and the Most Holy Body and Blood.
The Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord is granted to us as a sacrament and the greatest sacrament of the seven sacraments of Christianity.
What does a sacrament mean?
According to Christian faith, a sacrament is first of all a sign. However, it is not just a mere sign showing us something else, or leading us to another reality, of which it is a symbol. For example, traffic lights and sign posts along the road are symbols reminding drivers of traffic laws and of directions. A sacrament, on the contrary, is a sign that by itself contains and conveys a sacred reality which is a gift from the Almighty and All-powerful God.
The sacrament of Baptism for instance, is the symbol of a spiritual washing by which man is cleansed of the stain of sin, both original and personal. The amazing and touching truth is that the sacrament of Baptism, when celebrated properly in accordance with Christ’s command and the Church’s law, does make man not only clean of sin, but a new creation as well. In fact, the Church teaches us this truth that it is not the minister of the sacrament who forgives or makes people and things holy, but it is Christ Himself acting as Lord and Savior of all and true God in the sacrament Who forgives and sanctifies and gives eternal life to those who receive with strong faith in Him.
So is the reality of the sacrament of the Lord’s Body and Blood.
Out of His great love for humanity for whom He once for all laid down His own life on the cross in order to save it from sin and death, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, wants His sacrifice for the salvation of the world to be not just a mere sign or symbol reminding His believers of an event in the past, nor a commemoration of historical facts, no matter how important they might be, but always a truth, as real, alive, and effective as it was offered by Himself at the Last Supper.
Now, we have to watch Jesus at the first Holy Mass take the bread and the cup of wine, and listen to Him say the blessing. He was acting in the role of the High Priest of the New Covenant, offering not the blood of animals splashed on the altar and sprinkled on the people as required by the Old Testament Rite to obtain God’s forgiveness, but His own Blood with the absolute cleansing power that brings universal salvation. By saying, “This is my Body, this is my Blood”, Jesus made the bread His real Body and the wine His real Blood. When He said, “Do this in memory of Me”, He made the truth of His powerful words that turn bread into His Body and wine His blood forever efficient, and by so doing, He made His promise come true, that He would stay with us always to the end of the age. From then on, every time His very words are pronounced in His Holy Name and in His Person, by the Church’s ordained ministers, bread and wine become His Body and Blood.
Saint Thomas Aquinas stresses this truth that faced with this great sacrament of Christ’s most holy Body and Blood, our human senses such as sight, smelling, touching, taste, hearing and reasoning all fail. Only with faith in the words of Jesus, “This is my Body, this is my Blood”, and in obedience to the teaching of the Church on this matter of faith regarding the real presence of Christ Jesus in the sacrament of the Eucharist, can we overcome the danger of doubt and disbelief.
To the Church’s minister who showing us the consecrated host says, “The Body of Christ”, we, filled with unwavering faith and deep gratefulness, firmly respond: “Amen”, that means, “Yes, Lord, I do believe.”
Fr. Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Nhut, O.P.