1 Corinthians 11: 23-26; Luke 9:11-17)
In our first reading from the book of Genesis we heard of
Melchizedek, a priest-king of Jerusalem, who, later on in Israel's history, would
be described (Ps.110) as the eternal priest of Yahweh.This great figure, King of Righteousness (as
his name declares), priest of Yahweh God Most High, meets Abram and his men
as they are returning victorious from battle with Chedorlaomer, the former overlord
of the land.Abram and his 300 strong
force of warriors are exhausted after the battle, and Melchizedek comes with
bread and wine to refresh them.
Let us just stop here and wonder at the wisdom of our
God!This picture of Melchizedek -- based
on ancient traditions going back hundreds of years if not a thousand and more,
and then taken up again in Psalm 110 about 400 years before Jesus -- presents
us with a King of Righteousness, a priest of God Most High, who comes with
bread and wine to meet the battle weary Abraham and his men.Since Abraham is our father in faith, as St.
Paul tells us and as we say in the canon of the Mass, who cannot see that here
Melchizedek foreshadows Jesus?Jesus it
is Who comes to meet us, children of Abraham, wearied and wounded in our battle
not only with flesh and blood but, much more importantly, with the baleful power
of sin in the world; Jesus it is Who comes offering bread and wine which has
become His own Body and Blood, the only food fit for the spiritual refreshment
and eternal nourishment of all, who, like Abraham, our father in faith, are
following God's call to a new and heavenly homeland.
People of God, here we can glimpse something of God’s astounding
wisdom and beauty, enough surely to encourage us to whole-heartedly trust Him
and joyfully praise His most holy Name!
Next, we are told that:
Melchizedek blessed Abram,
with these words: "Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven
and earth.And blessed be God Most High,
Who delivered your enemies into your hand".
With those words we have some indication of the nature and
purpose of our Eucharist; and we are helped in such appreciation by taking note
of the difference between Jesus’ fulfilment of what Melchizedek had only been
able to foreshadow.Melchizedek was, we
are told, a priest of God most High; a very mysterious figure indeed, but one
who could not fail to do what all priests of ancient times were appointed and expected
to do: bring God’s blessing down upon mankind in need.Such priests were also meant to be channels
for gifts of praise and sacrifice from men to ascend to and be acceptable to
When the time of fulfilment came, none could have imagined
that the ultimate Priest of God most High would be His very own Son-made-man,
with the result that whereas Melchizedek was a merely functional link between
God and man, Jesus, on the other hand, is a sublimely Personal link uniting God
and man in Himself; and the reciprocal love between Jesus and His Father will
always, and in everything, be the originating source and definitive model and
fulfilment for every other blessing.
God’s blessing mediated through Melchizedek:
Blessed be God Most High Who
delivered your foes into your hand,
was a singular
blessing for the overthrow of one man’s earthly foes; it would, however, become
a universal paeon of praise when mediated through Jesus for the overcoming of Satan’s
baleful power of sin and death over all mankind:
Glory to God in the Highest and peace to His people on earth.
Such is, People of God, Jesus' ultimate purpose present in the
Holy Eucharist He has bequeathed us: first, to give glory to His Father
and then, to bestow a blessing: peace with God and -- through His Spirit – salvation
for His true disciples and all those of good will.
Let us now look more lovingly at the intimate details of
Jesus’ giving glory to God His Father and peace to His faithful on earth.
First of all, we must recognize that Jesus alone can
glorify His Father; we His disciples can only give glory to God in union with
Jesus: by our offering – through the priest celebrating Mass – Jesus Himself
in the Eucharist to His Father, and ourselves united with Jesus
by our most sincere devotion of mind and heart.At the priest’s elevation of the Sacred Host he holds up to the Father
the Son Who – knowing the Father as He Himself was known and loved by His
Father – sacrificed Himself for thesheep: total sacrifice of Self for love of the Father Whose will He, the
Son, knew and willed whole-heartedly to do in all things:
I am the good shepherd; just
as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I will lay down My life for
the sheep.(John 10:14-15)
Peace to His people on earth: this again Jesus alone can
give, in the sense that He alone destroyed Satan’s power of sin and death by
His own dying sinless on the Cross and rising bodily from the tomb.When the priest elevates the Sacred Blood, he offers first of all to the Father in propitiation for our sins:
Jesus’ love and adoration, Jesus’
praise and thanksgiving, Jesus’ faithfulness, trust, and obedience.And then we, so to speak, come into it for, since
Jesus wills to bestow peace on earth though He Personallyis in heaven at the right hand of His Father,
therefore He wills to use us -- His professed disciples and members of His Body
– as His very Own members on earth to bring about the fulness of His gift of
peace to all of good will.
And that, dear People of God, we do, above all, by living out
the one prayer He gave us, that is by humility, ‘forgive us our sins’ and
fraternal charity, ‘as we forgive others’, the only conditional petition
in Jesus’ prayer!!
Think of the dreadful mess in our world today, and see how
much evil is done for revenge, retaliation, satisfaction … Jesus does not
pray for the forgiveness of such people; He acknowledges His Father’s truth and
righteousness as well as His goodness and mercy, He proclaims His absolute
HOLINESS, Glory, and Beauty:
Father, forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Therefore, as disciples of Jesus, our first duty on
receiving Communion is to give praise to God the Father Who, through the death
and resurrection of His beloved and only-begotten Son, has freed us from the
power of sin and death and bestowed upon us His Gift of the Holy Spirit.
And, to help us achieve Jesus' second purpose for our
reception of Holy Communion, let us bear in mind the teaching of St. Paul who
(God) redeemed us in order
that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ
Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit. (Galatians
Notice that teaching of St. Paul, People of God: our
reception of the Eucharist only bears fruit on the basis of our faith, Jesus'
purpose on earth can only come to its fulfilment, through our faith in Him.
In His feeding of the Five Thousand Jesus insisted that the
Apostles share with Himself in the provision of food for so many:
them some food yourselves’, He said.
He still provides food for His People, and His demand for
our contribution still remains in force, and the contribution each of us has to
bring to the Eucharistic Table is dependent on our faith in Jesus, a faith not to be simply presumed but one to be repeatedly
called to mind, renewed, and deepened in humility and love.
Bearing this teaching in mind, we are now able to see the
full pattern of our response to Jesus and our rejoicing in the Eucharist today:
God has redeemed us through
Christ Jesus; from Whom, by faith and the Eucharist, we receive His
promise of the Spirit Who will guide Mother Church into all truth and form all
of us, her children, into a true likeness of Jesus for the glory of His Father
and the salvation of men.
First of all, therefore, dear People of God, be always
prepared and ready to give thanks, glory, praise and honour, to our heavenly
Father.Then, renew your faith in His
goodness, power and promise to us in Jesus.Finally, welcome the Spirit Whom Jesus bestows; for Jesus' own
Eucharistic Presence with us passes quickly. He comes, however, to bestow the Spirit Who wills
to abide with us in all the circumstances of life: welcome Both, therefore,
open your heart to both Jesus and His Gift, and pray that the Spirit may abide
in you and rule in your life so that you may be formed in the likeness of Jesus
for the glory of the Father in heaven.
Finally, never forget Mother Church. As we
heard in the Gospel reading:
(Jesus) gave (what He had
blessed) to the disciples to set before the people. They all ate and were
It is still the same today: we are satisfied with heavenly
food at the table set up by Mother Church.The food is, indeed, from Jesus, but It is given and presented to us, as
Jesus willed and established, through the priests of the Church.Jesus has promised that He will never forget
His Church; and so, although children here on earth do easily and all too
frequently forget to give thanks to those who are nearest and should be dearest
to them, we who, as children of Mother Church are disciples of Jesus, we who
aspire to become true children of God, must never fail to thank God for Mother
Church, and to ask His continued blessing on her whenever we receive God’s food
from her table at her Eucharistic sacrifice.