“The earth is the Lord’s” Ps 24:1. Our Father gave us all that we have. From the beginning, he taught us, his image and likeness, to do as he did, to give something back to him by sacrificing it. This is the origin of Rabbi Yeshua’s New and Eternal Covenant, in which he gives himself to us and we give our self to him.
The Primacy of Sacrifice
Our obligation to sacrifice has very deep roots. We may speculate that God taught the need for sacrifice to Adam and Eve, and that they taught it to their sons, Abel and Cain, who offered the first recorded sacrifice: “In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions” Gen 4:3–4.
God commanded Noah, “And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female” Gen 6:19. Two were the minimum number needed for regeneration. God later commanded Noah to “Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals, the male and his mate; and a pair of the animals that are not clean, the male and his mate” Gen 7:2. Seven sacrifices were necessary to meet the need for sacrifices after the flood.
After the flood, Noah offered sacrifice in thanksgiving, because our Father had allowed him, with his family and flocks, to pass over the flood that killed every other man then alive. “Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar” Gen 8:20.
The Torah required many sacrifices and offerings. In the halakha, 30 mitzvot address priests and Levites, 24 more address the t’rumah or heave offering, 33 more concern temple, sanctuary and sacred offerings, and 102 address sacrifices and offerings. In all, 189 of the 613 mitzvot were related to sacrifice. The sages believed that the todah sacrifice would continue for all eternity because we would always need to thank God for everything.
The Todah Sacrifice
The ancient Jews had a special ritual meal called the todah (Hebrew: thanks). God introduced a special requirement: “And the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving shall be eaten on the day of his offering; he shall not leave any of it until the morning” Lev 7:15. He repeated for emphasis: “It shall be eaten on the same day, you shall leave none of it until morning” Lev 22:30. From the beginning it had been a gathering. The head of household knew he would have to bring others to celebrate the thanksgiving with him because he could not finish consuming the offering alone.
The todah sacrifice recalled a mortal threat to the people Israel and offered thanks to God for saving them. The first todah feast was the original Passover meal, a thanksgiving for release from slavery in Egypt. Our Father connected the Passover and todah sacrifices with the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. The Shulkhan Arukh affirms that the matzah at the Passover Seder represents the todah sacrifice. A deep sense of thanks pervades the entire Seder, summarized in the song dayenu.
Although the todah sacrificed an animal, it was greater than other animal sacrifices because it added the suffering of one’s own life. David wrote, “ Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required” Ps 40:6. “I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart” Ps 40:8.” King David was specific: “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving” Ps 50:14.
Again, David wrote, “The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit” Ps 51:17. And again, “I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify Him with thanksgiving. This will please the Lord more than an ox or a bull with horns and hoofs” Ps 69:30–31. Isaiah spoke the words of God, “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams” Is 1:11. God called instead for a baptism: “Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good” Is 1:16–17. Our Father, through this spiritual exercise of suffering, brought his children closer to their Mashiakh. “For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too” 2 Cor 1:5.
The ancient rabbis believed that, when the Mashiakh would come, all sacrifices except the todah would cease, but the todah would continue for all eternity. “In the coming [Messianic] age, all sacrifices will cease except the todah sacrifice. This will never cease in all eternity.” The rabbis’ logic was that, no matter what may come, we will always thank God for it.
Our Father told Moses, “You cannot see my face; for man shall not see me and live” Ex 33:20. Yet God invited Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, together with seventy of the elders of Israel, up went up to see God to celebrate the todah: “Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, and they saw the God of Israel; and there was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness” Ex 24:9–10. It was a foretaste of heaven in the New Jerusalem. “… and the street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass” Rev 21:21. And then, “They beheld God, and ate and drank” Ex 24:11.
The emphasis is on, “They beheld God!” The Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Berakot 17a, tells us, “In the world to come there is no eating or drinking … but the righteous sit with crowns on their heads, feasting on the brightness of the divine presence.” During the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass we too feast not on bread and wine but on the brightness of Rabbi Yeshua, whole and entire.
God’s todah prefigured an offering to the twelve who represented the twelve tribes of Israel. “Take, eat; this is my body” Mt 26:26. Pope Benedict XVI, as a cardinal, wrote, “Structurally speaking, the whole of Christology, indeed the whole of Eucharistic Christology, is present in the todah spirituality of the Old Testament.”
Only in the Temple
Some time after Moses wrote the Torah on five parchment scrolls, the Book of Deuteronomy was lost. The centuries passed, and God’s people Israel did the best they could using the remaining four books of the Torah that they had. In Moses’ time, God had called for a portable Tabernacle, a place where God could meet with his people Israel. The Tabernacle was portable, so Israelites were free to set up altars and sacrifice to God wherever they were at the time.
Then God led King Solomon to build a magnificent Temple at an exact location in Jerusalem. The Temple began as the headquarters for Israel’s worship, but the animal sacrifices called for in the Torah, mainly in the books of Leviticus and Numbers, could be done anywhere.
The Book of Chronicles tells us, “Hilkiah the priest found the book of the law of the Lord given through Moses” 2 Chron 34:14. In the original Hebrew, et sefer torat YHWH beyad Moshe. This original Hebrew shows us that it is Moses’ original scroll. Et is “the,” not just any but the one. Sefer is a sofer’s hand written scroll. Torat is the possessive form of torah; followed by YHWH it means God’s Torah. Be means “in.” Yad is “hand.” Beyad moshe means “in the hand of Moses,” or more colloquially, “hand written by Moses.”
You shall seek the place which the Lord your God will choose out of all your tribes to put his name and make his habitation there; thither you shall go, and thither you shall bring your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and the offering that you present, your votive offerings, your freewill offerings, and the firstlings of your herd and of your flock Deut 12:5–6.
Josiah and Hilkiah knew that God had chosen a place to make his habitation: The Temple in Jerusalem. No longer could Jews celebrate the Passover wherever they lived. From that day on God required every able-bodied Jewish father in the world to travel from wherever he lived to Jerusalem and make his obligatory sacrifices there in the Temple. He could no longer do the sacrifice himself. Now he had to bring it to a priest who would sacrifice the lamb for him.
God had confined all sacrifices to the Temple, and then allowed the Temple to be destroyed. But he had also commanded that the Passover would be an ordinance forever. The Passover sacrifice must have continued in some form. Of course, it did, as the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, when the Lamb of God served as both priest and victim. There was only one sacrifice, the Final Sacrifice, re-presented every day on the altars of Catholic cathedrals, parish churches and monasteries all over the world.
Origins of the Mass
Liturgy of the Word
The Torah as Pre-Figure
The Torah’s overall architecture pre-figures the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The first two books, Genesis and Exodus, primarily tell of God’s mighty works, but also have songs and prayers. In this they pre-figure the Liturgy of the Word, the first part of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The third, fourth and fifth books, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, are primarily about sacrifice and thanksgiving to God. In this they pre-figure the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the second part of the Mass.
There is some sacrifice in Genesis and Exodus, and some history in Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, but in the main these five books, said to have preceded creation itself, pre-figure in their organization the great history of God’s revelation to man through Moses and Rabbi Yeshua.
From the Beginning
Our Father commanded that the Passover sacrifice be “an ordinance for ever” Ex 12:14, and that it be done only in the Temple Deut 12:5–6. After AD 70 there was no Temple but, because God declared it eternal, it must be continuing in some form. Rabbi Yeshua provided for the continuance of the Passover sacrifice Ex 12:6 during the Last Supper by instituting the Sacrament of his Body and Blood.
The most Jewish Jew of all § 578 made the greatest sacrifice of all. With the words, “Do this in remembrance of me” Lk 22:19, Rabbi Yeshua commanded that his Final Sacrifice be re-presented as a todah sacrifice, a sacrifice of thanksgiving, until the end of time. In the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, when the priest declares, “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God,” the congregation responds, “It is right and just.”
The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass has been constant in its essentials from the days of the early Christians to the present day. Rabbi Yeshua‘s own shlikhim also wrote down the Mashiakh‘s directions for his new Church in the Didache. Chapter 9 addressed the Eucharist.
Now concerning the Thanksgiving (Eucharist), thus give thanks. First, concerning the cup: We thank you, our Father, for the holy vine of David Your servant, which You made known to us through Jesus Your Servant; to You be the glory for ever. And concerning the broken bread: We thank You, our Father, for the life and knowledge which You made known to us through Jesus Your Servant; to You be the glory for ever. Even as this broken bread was scattered over the hills, and was gathered together and became one, so let Your Church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into Your kingdom; for Yours is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ for ever. But let no one eat or drink of your Thanksgiving (Eucharist), but they who have been baptized into the name of the Lord; for concerning this also the Lord has said, Give not that which is holy to the dogs.
The shlikhim emphasized the extreme holiness of the sacrifice. From the beginning Rabbi Yeshua‘s shlikhim gave form to its holiness by continuing to attend the Temple each day as Moses had taught, and then going to their homes and breaking bread as Rabbi Yeshua had taught. “And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts” Acts 2:46.
By AD 151 St. Justin Martyr described the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass very much as we would today: “And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons.”1
Hebrew in the Mass
The Hebrew word hallel-u-yah means “All praise God!” Hallel is praise. The u makes it a plural verb, hallelu, let us all praise. Yah, spelled yod-hay, is an abbreviation for YHWH (Yod-Hay-Vav-Hay), the name of God. In Hebrew Scripture it is two words, hallelu yah. Following the Septuagint’s and Rabbi Yokhanan‘s Greek Allelouia, St. Jerome’s Latin Vulgate gives it consistently as Alleluia. That has become the traditional Catholic usage. In Hebrew Scripture we find hallelu yah at: Ps 104:1; 145:1; 148:14, 149:9, and 150:5. In the Deuterocanonicals, at Tob 13:22, and in the New Testament in Greek transliteration, at Rev 19:1, 3, 4, and 6.
We proclaim it before the Gospel reading.
Hosanna is a Greek transliteration of the Hebrew hoshana, “save us.” Hoshana does not transliterate well into koine Greek, so Rabbi Matityahu 21:9, 15, Rabbi Marcus 11:9–10 and Rabbi Yokhanan 12:13 transliterated it into Greek as best they could.
Hosha is “save,” from yeshua, salvation. Na is “us.” The Hebrew Mass celebrated in Israel says, hoshana bameromim. Meromim means “in highest places,” another Hebrew word for heaven. The people who were spreading palm branches in Rabbi Yeshua’s path as he rode into Jerusalem on the donkey were praying to Him, “Save us in the highest places,” or more colloquially, “Save us in heaven.”
Strictly speaking, hosha is “you save.” But translating hoshana as “you save us” might be misconstrued as a declarative or even imperative statement rather than the plea it is. “Save us” is more idiomatic English.
It concludes the Preface to the Eucharistic Prayer. In Latin, “Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dóminus Deus Sábaoth. Pléni sunt caeli et terra gloria tua. Hosánna in excélsis. Benedíctus qui venit in nómine Dómini. Hosánna in excélsis.”
Maranatha 1 Cor 16:22 is actually two Aramaic words. Rabbi Paul transliterated these two words into Greek as a single word, rather than translating them, so it can be divided either as marana tha or as maran atha.
Marana tha is a plea, “Our Lord, come!” The RSV2CE takes this translation.
Maranatha is used during Advent, in Scripture reading and prayer.
Amen means: Have faith! Or Believe! The root alef-mem-nun also gives us emunah, faith. Each of Maimonides’ Thirteen Principles of Faith begins with ani maamin (“I have faith,” or “I believe”). Amen is pronounced ah-men (ah rhymes with father), not ay-men (ay rhymes with way). The common translation, “It’s true,” comes from a different Hebrew word, emet, truth, from the root alef-mem-tav.
Amen is related to the Hebrew verb aman, “He confirmed” or “He supported,” and a related word emet, “firm in the truth.” Amen is an uninflected word used as a particle of affirmation. Particles cannot be unpacked into entire sentences, which is why amen was transliterated into Greek, Latin, and English, rather than translated.
James Strong tells us, “The word “amen” is a most remarkable word. It was transliterated directly from the Hebrew into the Greek of the New Testament, then into Latin and into English and many other languages, so that it is practically a universal word. It has been called the best known word in human speech. The word is directly related—in fact, almost identical—to the Hebrew word for “believe” (amam), or faithful. Thus, it came to mean “sure” or “truly,” an expression of absolute trust and confidence.”
God unites us through amen.
The Jewish Holy of Holies and the Catholic Sanctuary
The Divine Liturgy of St. James proclaimed in its Cherubic Hymn, “Let all mortal flesh keep silence, and stand with fear and trembling, and meditate nothing earthly within itself. For the King of kings and Lord of lords, Christ our God, comes forward to be sacrificed, and to be given for food to the faithful. And the bands of angels go before him with every power and dominion, the many-eyed cherubim, and the six-winged seraphim, covering their faces, and crying aloud the hymn: Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.”2
The church’s sanctuary is, mystically speaking, the Holy of Holies in Moses’ Tabernacle. It has a Tabernacle in which the Word of God made Flesh abides. It has a priest and an altar. Its altar is more precious than gold because it holds the relic of a martyr, connecting the priest’s sacrifice with Rabbi Yeshua’s sacrifice and the martyr’s sacrifice in Rabbi Yeshua’s name.
The Jewish Morning Service: Liturgy of the Word
Orthodox Jewish prayer services today are like those of the ancient Temple. There are three daily prayer services: shakharit, morning prayer, minkha, afternoon prayer, and ma’ariv, evening prayer. Reciting the Shma morning and evening fulfills the commandment that Jews are to talk of the mitzvot “when you lie down, and when you rise” Deut 6:7; Mishna Berakhot 1:3B.
Shakharit, the morning prayer service, is the most extensive of the three. It is also the basis for the Sabbath service. Probably the shlikhim used it in the earliest Masses. It begins with prayers for putting on the talit gadol (large prayer shawl usually worn only in a place of Jewish worship) with its tzitzit (fringes), and prayers for putting on the tefilin(phylacteries). The talit represents a Jew’s intimate relationship with God, Its tzitzit remind the Jew of the 613 mitzvot which he is responsible to keep as best he can to maintain the intimate relationship. The tefilin fulfill our Father’s command, “And you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes” Deut 6:8.
A minyan 3 is required for shakharit. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is also a gathering. In fact, a Church itself is an assembly. “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them” Mt 18:20.
The morning blessings begin the Jewish prayer service, followed by blessings from the Torah. Then there is a reading, called a parsha, from the Torah, followed by a reading, called the haftarah 4, from one of the prophets. This is why Rabbi Yeshua spoke often of “the law and the prophets” Mt 5:17; 7:12; 22:40; Lk 16:16. Then comes the Shma. In Orthodox services this is followed by a series of readings from Biblical and rabbinic writings recalling the offerings made in the Temple in Jerusalem. The section concludes with the rabbi’s kaddish.
The next section of morning prayers is called pesukei zimrah, verses of praise, a recitation of Psalm 100 and Psalms 100 and 145-150. It also includes prayers made from a tapestry of biblical verses, followed by the Song at the Sea Ex 15:2–18.
After that comes barkhu, the formal public call to prayer, a series of prayers, and the main recitation of the Shma, all three parts. This is followed by the core of the shakharit, the amidah, also called the shmone esre, eighteen benedictions, the central prayer of all three Jewish daily services. Then come the takhanun, supplications. On Mondays and Thursdays a Torah reading service is inserted. Concluding prayers then follow.
The Liturgy of the Word, with its songs, prayers, and Scripture readings, summarizes the shakharit, so as not to overshadow the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
The Church’s Divine Office also originated with the Temple prayer services. In apostolic times it consisted almost entirely of psalms and readings from the Old Testament. Over time, the Church added readings from the New Testament and other prayers.
The Amidah, a prayer so revered by the Jewish people that it must be said standing, is a series of what were originally eighteen major blessings, or benedictions.
Its third benediction, the kedusha, the high point of the Amidah, proclaims, kadosh, kadosh, kadosh, “holy, holy, holy,” from, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory” Is 6:3. The next part of Isaiah’s vision was, “Then flew one of the seraphim to me, having in his hand a burning coal which he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth, and said: ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin forgiven’” Is 6:6–7.
The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass contains this kedusha as well: “Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.” It leads to the high point of the Mass, the consecration, which completes the Seder’s eating of the matzah 5 by making it Rabbi Yeshua’s glorified Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. His sacramental presence shows us from the Seder that humble obedience to God gives life.
The Holy Eucharist
One Single Sacrifice
§ 1367: “The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice.”
Two Thousand Years Ago
During the traditional Passover Seder, immediately after all present drink the hallel cup, the head of household declares the Seder complete, often with the Hebrew words zeh haseder kehilkhato, and prays, “Next year in Jerusalem.” The new Israel shows us Jerusalem on high. “And in the Spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal” Rev 21:10–11.
Rabbi Yeshua did not end his Last Supper according to the ancient tradition. Instead, He told His shlikhim, “I tell you I shall not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom” Mt 26:29. He sang the hallel psalms but did not drink the fourth cup, the hallel cup, that night so the Passover was not finished.
After the Last Supper Rabbi Yeshua prayed at Gethsemane by moonlight, “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me” Mt 26:39. After being captured He asked Rabbi Kefa, “Shall I not drink the cup which the Father has given me?” Jn 18:11.
On the Cross Rabbi Yeshua drank his hallel cup during his last moments of earthly life. “They put a sponge full of the vinegar on hyssop and held it to His mouth” Jn 19:29. When Rabbi Yeshua had received the vinegar, the fourth cup, he said zeh haseder kehilkhato, it is finished, bowed his head and gave up his spirit. Jn 19:30.
The traditional Passover Seder ends when the head of household announces, “Next year in Jerusalem.” Rabbi Yeshua‘s “It is finished” ended his Passover Seder as an invitation to the new Jerusalem Rev 21:2. Rabbi Paul tells us, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” Rom 6:3-4.
In Our Time
Holy Mother Church celebrates the Triduum–Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday–as one continuous event. Good Friday, fourteenth nisan, begins on Thursday at sundown with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper and continues through Friday at 3:00 pm with the solemn Good Friday service representing Rabbi Yeshua‘s Final Sacrifice, after which comes the solemn rest through Friday sundown. Holy Saturday, fifteenth nisan, from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown, is a day of solemn rest representing Rabbi Yeshua in the tomb. Easter Sunday, sixteenth nisan, begins on Saturday at sundown with the glorious Easter Vigil Mass representing Rabbi Yeshua risen from the tomb and continues through Sunday at sundown. There is no blessing or dismissal at the end of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, no introduction or dismissal in the Solemn Good Friday Service, and no introduction in the Easter Vigil Mass.
His Last Supper and Final Sacrifice, sacramentally the same event, had to be celebrated on the same day. But not only on the same day. The Catholic Church celebrates one single sacrifice. In God’s mysterious providence they occurred in the same day-long moment! “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” Mt 19:26.
§ 1366 The Eucharist is thus a sacrifice because it re-presents (makes present) the sacrifice of the cross, because it is its memorial and because it applies its fruit:
Christ, our Lord and God, was once and for all to offer himself to God the Father by his death on the altar of the cross, to accomplish there an everlasting redemption. But because his priesthood was not to end with his death, at the Last Supper “on the night when he was betrayed,” he wanted to leave to his beloved spouse the Church a visible sacrifice (as the nature of man demands) by which the bloody sacrifice which he was to accomplish once for all on the cross would be re-presented, its memory perpetuated until the end of the world, and its salutary power be applied to the forgiveness of the sins we daily commit.
The remembrance keeps it holy, it brings the seventh day Gen 2:3 into the present as the first day, the Lord’s Day Rev 1:10; § 1166. In the same way, when the priest consecrates the Holy Eucharist, our zakhor, our remembrance of his Final Sacrifice bring it into the present church in which we are all gathered. Every Catholic priest celebrates the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in Persona Christi Capitis, in the person of Christ the Head [of the Church]. When we stand before the priest to receive Holy Communion, in God‘s sight, that is in reality, we are standing before Rabbi Yeshua personally receiving his body and blood. This is why Rabbi Paul taught us, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the chalice, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” 1 Cor 11:26 and cautioned us, “For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself” 1 Cor 11:29.
As the Final Sacrifice
These animal sacrifices came to an abrupt end on Tisha B’Av in AD 70 when the Temple fell. During the past two thousand years it has never been rebuilt. Chabad explains, “Today our prayers are in place of the sacrifices. So the principal aspect of the sacrifices was never terminated. Just the outer aspects that the Torah also demands, those are temporarily suspended.” But only temporarily. Jews pray that the Torah sacrifices of bulls and goats, one after another, an endless stream of blood, might someday be resumed, until the coming of the Mashiakh!
There was a straighter line from the animal sacrifices to Rabbi Yeshua’s Final Sacrifice than casual observation picks up. The Old Testament Jews understood the sacrifices to be primarily spiritual. The Psalmist said, “I will make an offering of bulls and goats. Selah” Ps 66:15. But Rabbi Paul replied, “It is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins” Heb 10:4. He continued,
“Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way which he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” Heb 10:19–22.
Rabbi Yeshua is God’s Mashiakh. His one single sacrifice, uniting the Passover sacrifice and feast with his own death on the Cross, was the true Final Sacrifice. Therefore St. John Chrysostom explained, “We always offer the same Lamb, not one today and another tomorrow, but always the same one.”2 His commentary on these words is profound and perceptive: “For what is the bread? It is the body of Christ. And what do those who receive it become? The Body of Christ—not many bodies but one body. For as bread is completely one, though made of up many grains of wheat, and these, albeit unseen, remain nonetheless present, in such a way that their difference is not apparent since they have been made a perfect whole, so too are we mutually joined to one another and together united with Christ.”3
The Words of Institution
The Ordo Missae Hebraice tells us that Rabbi Yeshua’s actual Hebrew words of institution, as nearly as we know them, were for the bread, k-khoo ve-ikhloo mimenu kulkhem ki zeh hu basari hanimsar lema-ankhem, and for the wine, k-khoo ushetoo mimenah kulkhem ki zohi kos dami, dam haberit hakhadasha ve-hanitzkhit, asher yishafekh lema-ankhem ulma-an harabim leshem kipur hakhataym. Zot asoo lezikhri.
Rabbi Yeshua‘s next words, Zot asoo lezikhri, instituted the Catholic priesthood: “Do this in remembrance of me” Lk 22:19. Lezikhri is a form of the Hebrew word zakhor. The root zkhr is often translated as “remember.” But in the Hebrew mind it does not bring us back to a time but rather brings that time forward to the present. Our Father said, “… Thus I am to be remembered [zeh zikhri] throughout all generations” Ex 3:15. Notice the striking similarity between our Father’s command zeh zikhri Ex 3:15, and Rabbi Yeshua’s command, zot asoo lezikhri Lk 22:19. The Word is with us. The Word Made Flesh is with us. Rabbi Yeshua said, “I am with you always” Mt 28:20. When we approach the priest to receive Holy Communion, in God’s sight, which means in the deepest and most truthful sense, we are literally standing before Christ on the Cross, receiving his Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. He is with us always.
Our Father said, “Thus I am to be remembered [zeh zikhri] throughout all generations.” Notice the striking similarity between our Father’s command, zeh zikhri, and Rabbi Yeshua‘s command, zot asoo lezikhri. Zeh and zot both mean “this.” Asoo is “you will do,” a command that something be done in the future. Zikhri is “my memory.” Most Jews know yizkor, a memorial service, from the same root zkhr. The Word is with us. The Word Made Flesh is with us. Rabbi Yeshua summarized, “I am with you always” Mt 28:20. In this life he is with us always, through the Holy Eucharist as remembrance and through our remembrance of him at every moment of our lives. And when we are gathered to our people we will be with him, and with all the saints, as our family.
There are always four great Eucharistic actions. “He took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it …” At Emmaus the four Eucharistic actions were present although there was no mention of a meal. “When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them” Lk 24:30. Then see what follows: “And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight” Lk 24:31. When we see Rabbi Yeshua in the Holy Eucharist we recognize him but he is vanished from our sight. Rabbi Paul celebrated Mass aboard a ship off Malta. “He took bread, and giving thanks to God in the presence of all, he broke it and began to eat. Then they all were encouraged and ate some food themselves” Acts 27:35–36.
The three Gospel narratives of the Last Supper are absolutely consistent. Rabbi Matityahu: “This is my body” Mt 26:26. “This is my blood” Mt 26:27. Rabbi Marcus: “This is my body” Mk 14:22. “This is my blood” Mk 14:24. Rabbi Lucas: “This is my body” Lk 22:19. “This … is the new covenant in my blood” Lk 22:20.
Always THIS IS. The Gospels do not say, think of this as, or this is a symbol of, or imagine this as, or anything that would imply that it is only a symbol. Rabbi Yeshua said THIS IS MY BODY. THIS IS MY BLOOD.
Rabbi Yeshua’s next words instituted the Catholic priesthood: “Do this in remembrance of me” Lk 22:19. He had used the Hebrew word zakhor, remember, which brings what is remembered into the present. “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them” Mt 18:20.
Rabbi Yeshua’s reference to “the new covenant in my blood” Lk 22:20 was a direct reference to Jeremiah’s prophecy, “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant which they broke” Jer 31:31–32.
These words, “This is my body,” and “This is my blood” are the words of institution. When Rabbi Yeshua spoke them at the Last Supper, they instituted the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist by bringing into being his body and blood on the table under the appearance of bread and wine. When a Catholic priest in the apostolic succession speaks them today, the Holy Spirit transubstantiates the unleavened bread into the Body of Christ and the wine into the Blood of Christ.
The Body of Christ and the Blood of Christ differ only in appearance. In substance both are Rabbi Yeshua‘s Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Rabbi Paul told the Corinthians: “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord” 1 Cor 11:27.
Rabbi Paul added, “For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself” 1 Cor 11:29. If we receive the Holy Eucharist without acknowledging, at least in our hearts, that it is his true Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, we send ourselves to hell.
St. Matthew’s Gospel quotes Jesus raising the second piece of matzah, “Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” Mt 26:26. Two thousand years later, during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the priest still says,”He took bread and, giving thanks, broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “TAKE THIS, ALL OF YOU, AND EAT OF IT, FOR THIS IS MY BODY, WHICH WILL BE GIVEN UP FOR YOU.” At the words of institution THIS IS MY BODY the Holy Spirit transubstantiates the bread into Rabbi Yeshua’s true Body. Its appearance remains the same but its substance is entirely transformed.
The priest continues, again using Rabbi Yeshua‘s own words Mt 26:27–28, “TAKE THIS, ALL OF YOU, AND DRINK FROM IT, FOR THIS IS THE CHALICE OF MY BLOOD, THE BLOOD OF THE NEW AND ETERNAL COVENANT, WHICH WILL BE POURED OUT FOR YOU AND FOR MANY FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS. DO THIS IN MEMORY OF ME.” At the words of institution THIS IS THE CHALICE OF MY BLOOD the Holy Spirit transubstantiates the bread into Rabbi Yeshua‘s true Blood. The essential words of institution are THIS IS MY BLOOD. Holy Mother Church adds the chalice of to show us, her faithful, that the chalice itself does not become Rabbi Yeshua‘s body and blood. Only the wine it holds is transubstantiated.
During the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the priest, speaking in persona Christi, in the person of Christ, speaks these same words, instituting the sacrament in this particular parish church. We call these words the words of institution, since by them the bread and wine are transubstantiated into Christ’s body and blood.
The first words of institution are, “This is my body.” Transubstantiation of the bread occurs at the moment the priest speaks those words. The second words of institution are, “This is the chalice of my blood.” Transubstantiation of the wine occurs at the moment the priest speaks those words.
We use the term institution narrative to describe this part of the Eucharistic Prayer (Roman Canon): “The day before he was to suffer he took bread in his holy and venerable hands, and with eyes raised to heaven to you, O God, his almighty Father, giving you thanks, he said the blessing, broke the bread, and gave it to his disciples, saying: Take this, all of you, and eat it: this is my body which will be given up for you. When supper was ended, he took the cup. Again he gave you thanks and praise, gave the cup to his disciples, and said: ‘Take this, all of you, and drink from it, for this is the chalice of my blood, the blood of the new and eternal covenant, which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this in memory of me.’”
Straight From the Gospels
“Amen, amen, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh. The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ So Jesus said to them, Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever” Jn 6:47–58.
This he said in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum.
Verse by Verse
These words are eternal life for us. Let’s look at them again slowly, one verse at a time:
“I am the bread of life” Jn 6:48.
“Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died” Jn 6:49.
“This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die” Jn 6:50.
“I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh” Jn 6:51.
“The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Jn 6:52.
“He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” Jn 6:54.
“For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed” Jn 6:55.
“He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” Jn 6:56.
“As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me” Jn 6:57.
This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever” Jn 6:58.
The Jews in the Capernaum Synagogue
The Jews in the Capernaum synagogue knew Rabbi Yeshua was speaking literally. He had said Amen, amen twice: Jn 6:47, 53. The Jews knew what amen meant. They said, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Jn 6:52. Rabbi Yeshua had insisted, My flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed” Jn 6:55. They said again, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” Jn 6:60. On other occasions when our Lord spoke of himself as a “door” Jn 10:9 or a “vine” Jn 15:1 nobody said, “How can this man be made of wood?” or “How can this man be a plant?” They recognized these as metaphors.
Rabbi Yokhanan quotes Rabbi Yeshua’s use of “Amen, amen, I say to you,” in 25 different places. Jn 1:51; 3:3, 5, 11, 5:19, 24, 25, 6:26, 32, 47, 53, 8:34, 51, 58; 10:7; 12:24; 13:16, 20, 21, 38, 14:12; 16:20, 23; 21:18. In every other instance, both Catholics and sola Scriptura believers agree that he is to be taken literally. As well he should. When we hear Rabbi Yeshua say, “Believe! Believe! I say to you,” we know that he intends us to understand that what he is saying is absolutely true, and that it’s crucial for our salvation.
And the Jews in the synagogue knew all about symbolic foods. The Last Supper, when Rabbi Yeshua instituted the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, was a Passover Seder. The Seder table is filled with symbolic foods. The New Testament gives us no real description of a Passover Seder, such as Rabbi Yeshua celebrated as his Last Supper because every first century Jew had celebrated the Passover with his family every year of his life and knew it by heart.
In Rabbi Yeshua‘s time the main feast was roasted lamb. “They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it” Ex 12:8. In our time there are six foods on the Seder plate; we may speculate that there were similar foods on the Seder plates in his time:
1 Matzah, flat unleavened bread. God commanded Israel in Egypt to eat unleavened bread because they had to eat in haste for the Exodus from Egypt, there was no time to leaven the bread. By Jesus’ time the unleavened bread was a symbol of Israel in Egypt’s need to depart in haste.
2 Roasted Lamb. The lamb that God had commanded be sacrificed by Israel in Egypt and at every subsequent Passover celebration, was a reminder of Israel’s need to offer a sacrifice to God in thanksgiving for his mighty hand in breaking them free from the yoke of slavery in Egypt. Today, Jews substitute a roasted lamb shank bone.
3 Roasted Egg. The roasted egg was a symbol of new life. In a farmer’s hen house, a chicken hatches from its egg and begins a new life.
4 Maror. These are the bitter herbs that God had also commanded at Ex 12:8 to remind Israel of the harshness of its slavery in Egypt, to remind them of how bitterly they suffered under the Egyptian lash.
5 Charoset. Charoset is a mixture of fruit, nuts, honey and wine. It symbolizes the mortar that ancient Israel had to use to hold together the bricks of the Egyptian cities and pyramids that they built. Egypt “made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field” Ex 1:14 Yet the sweet-tasting charoset reminds us that even in our most bitter trials there are moments of sweetness when we reflect on God.
6 Karpas, green vegetables, to remind Israel of how God brought his people through the Red Sea and made them a new nation.
These are only the most basic descriptions of these six foods as symbols. We who grew up with the Seder remember the charoset, the fruit-nuts-honey-wine mixture that symbolizes the bricks and mortar. The Egyptians had insisted that the Israelites make their bricks out of straw Ex 5:7. Bricks made of straw soon collapse. The Egyptians made Israel’s labor meaningless because the cities and pyramids they were forced to build often collapsed before they were even completed. Most rabbis could spend an hour explaining the symbolism of these six foods. I’ve heard them do it.
But at Capernaum Rabbi Yeshua had said: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh” Jn 6:51.
The Jews in the Capernaum synagogue knew that he was speaking literally. They asked “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Jn 6:52. On other occasions when our Lord spoke of Himself as a “door” Jn 10:9 or a “vine” Jn 15:1 nobody said, “How can this man be made of wood?” or “How can this man be a plant?” They recognized these as metaphors. But when Rabbi Yeshua insisted, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life” Jn 6:53–54 the Jews demurred, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” Jn 6:60.
During the first 1,500 years every Christian knew that the Holy Eucharist was really, truly and substantially Christ’s Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. But today some sola Scriptura believers read Rabbi Yeshua’s words, “It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” Jn 6:63, and think eternal life is obtained by believing Rabbi Yeshua ’s words but that eating his flesh would be profitless. We believe all that he tells us, including, “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” Jn 6:56.
Rabbi Yeshua did not say “My flesh” is of no avail. He said “the flesh,” a common metaphor for mortal humanity without the Holy Spirit, as opposed to “the spirit” that gives life. Rabbi Paul is clear. “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” Rom 8:3–4.
How the Priest Consecrates
Rabbi Yeshua‘s next words to his shlikhim were, DO THIS IN MEMORY OF ME Lk 22:19. With these words Rabbi Yeshua authorized his shlikhim to do the same consecrations themselves. His words, THIS IS THE NEW COVENANT IN MY BLOOD Lk 22:20, enabled the shlikhim to ordain successors who would also have Rabbi Yeshua’s authority to consecrate the Holy Eucharist. A covenant is not a one-time event but a commitment until the end of time. The successors of the shlikhim could appoint successors who would themselves have authority to consecrate and to appoint successors in turn creating a line of apostolic succession that would extend from Rabbi Yeshua himself to his Second Coming at the end of time.
As the early Church spread rapidly, the bishops could no longer be everywhere they were needed to consecrate for the flock, and so they began to appoint priests to assist with the consecrations and with most of the other sacraments.
This is the apostolic succession. To this day every Catholic bishop is a successor of the Apostles, ordained by a bishop who was ordained by a bishop who was ordained by a bishop … who was personally ordained by a shaliakh ordained by Rabbi Yeshua himself at the Last Supper.
A Catholic priest is a sacred person. Every Catholic bishop, priest or deacon is ordained in the Sacrament of Holy Orders. This sacrament imparts an indelible character or mark on his soul that God can see. The Church calls this change in his soul an ontological transformation, a transformation in his very being. Just as the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is an ontological transformation of bread and wine into Christ’s body and blood, so a man on entering Holy Orders is also ontologically transformed and given charisms to carry out his special work.
The Awesome Power of the Holy Eucharist
When ten Roman Emperors persecuted Christians during the first three centuries, the blood of the martyrs watered the seeds of Christianity by witnessing to Rabbi Yeshua’s power over death. Rabbi Yeshua gave them the grace to endure martyrdom through the foretaste of heaven. Rabbi Yeshua alone can exorcise Satan and his demons. Rabbi Yeshua alone, through the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Catholic Church, can shine so much grace on us that we can endure even lions tearing our flesh because he has truly conquered death.
The Eastern Orthodox churches abandoned papal authority a thousand years ago, but they held fast to the Holy Eucharist by preserving the line of apostolic succession through which their priests receive Rabbi Yeshua’s authority to consecrate. Even without papal authority, the Holy Eucharist has held the Eastern Orthodox churches more or less together as a relatively small number of independent churches, such as the Russian Orthodox Church and the Greek Orthodox Church. The doctrines they teach are similar to what the Catholic Church teaches, and similar to one another.
But the sola Scriptura believers abandoned the Holy Eucharist when they abandoned the apostolic succession. As a result, despite their having abandoned papal authority only five hundred years ago, they have split into a theological bedlam of conflicting opinions. Even though they all hold the same Christian Bible as their highest authority, a blizzard of Protestant denominations hold widely separate views on baptism, the Holy Eucharist, ecclesiology, liturgy, matrimony, sin, salvation, eschatology, and more. The Catholic Church Alone has held fast.
The Fruits of Holy Communion
§ 1391 Holy Communion augments our union with Christ. The principal fruit of receiving the Eucharist in Holy Communion is an intimate union with Christ Jesus. Indeed, the Lord said: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.” Life in Christ has its foundation in the Eucharistic banquet: “As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me.”
On the feasts of the Lord, when the faithful receive the Body of the Son, they proclaim to one another the Good News that the first fruits of life have been given, as when the angel said to Mary Magdalene, “Christ is risen!” Now too are life and resurrection conferred on whoever receives Christ.
§ 1392 What material food produces in our bodily life, Holy Communion wonderfully achieves in our spiritual life. Communion with the flesh of the risen Christ, a flesh given life and giving life through the Holy Spirit, preserves, increases, and renews the life of grace received at Baptism. This growth in Christian life needs the nourishment of Eucharistic Communion, the bread for our pilgrimage until the moment of death, when it will be given to us as viaticum.
§ 1393 Holy Communion separates us from sin. The body of Christ we receive in Holy Communion is given up for us, and the blood we drink shed for the many for the forgiveness of sins. For this reason the Eucharist cannot unite us to Christ without at the same time cleansing us from past sins and preserving us from future sins:
For as often as we eat this bread and drink the cup, we proclaim the death of the Lord. If we proclaim the Lord’s death, we proclaim the forgiveness of sins. If, as often as his blood is poured out, it is poured for the forgiveness of sins, I should always receive it, so that it may always forgive my sins. Because I always sin, I should always have a remedy.
§ 1394 As bodily nourishment restores lost strength, so the Eucharist strengthens our charity, which tends to be weakened in daily life; and this living charity wipes away venial sins. By giving himself to us Christ revives our love and enables us to break our disordered attachments to creatures and root ourselves in him:
Since Christ died for us out of love, when we celebrate the memorial of his death at the moment of sacrifice we ask that love may be granted to us by the coming of the Holy Spirit. We humbly pray that in the strength of this love by which Christ willed to die for us, we, by receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, may be able to consider the world as crucified for us, and to be ourselves as crucified to the world…. Having received the gift of love, let us die to sin and live for God.
§ 1395 By the same charity that it enkindles in us, the Eucharist preserves us from future mortal sins. the more we share the life of Christ and progress in his friendship, the more difficult it is to break away from him by mortal sin. the Eucharist is not ordered to the forgiveness of mortal sins – that is proper to the sacrament of Reconciliation. the Eucharist is properly the sacrament of those who are in full communion with the Church.
§ 1396 The unity of the Mystical Body: the Eucharist makes the Church. Those who receive the Eucharist are united more closely to Christ. Through it Christ unites them to all the faithful in one body – the Church. Communion renews, strengthens, and deepens this incorporation into the Church, already achieved by Baptism. In Baptism we have been called to form but one body. The Eucharist fulfills this call: “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? the bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread:”
If you are the body and members of Christ, then it is your sacrament that is placed on the table of the Lord; it is your sacrament that you receive. To that which you are you respond “Amen” (“yes, it is true!”) and by responding to it you assent to it. For you hear the words, “The Body of Christ” and respond “Amen.” Be then a member of the Body of Christ that your Amen may be true.
§ 1397 The Eucharist commits us to the poor. To receive in truth the Body and Blood of Christ given up for us, we must recognize Christ in the poorest, his brethren:
You have tasted the Blood of the Lord, yet you do not recognize your brother. You dishonor this table when you do not judge worthy of sharing your food someone judged worthy to take part in this meal. God freed you from all your sins and invited you here, but you have not become more merciful.
§ 1398 The Eucharist and the unity of Christians. Before the greatness of this mystery St. Augustine exclaims, “O sacrament of devotion! O sign of unity! O bond of charity!” The more painful the experience of the divisions in the Church which break the common participation in the table of the Lord, the more urgent are our prayers to the Lord that the time of complete unity among all who believe in him may return.
§ 1399 The Eastern churches that are not in full communion with the Catholic Church celebrate the Eucharist with great love. These Churches, although separated from us, yet possess true sacraments, above all – by apostolic succession – the priesthood and the Eucharist, whereby they are still joined to us in closest intimacy.” A certain communion in sacris, and so in the Eucharist, given suitable circumstances and the approval of Church authority, is not merely possible but is encouraged.
§ 1400 Ecclesial communities derived from the Reformation and separated from the Catholic Church, Have not preserved the proper reality of the Eucharistic mystery in its fullness, especially because of the absence of the sacrament of Holy Orders. It is for this reason that Eucharistic intercommunion with these communities is not possible for the Catholic Church. However these ecclesial communities, when they commemorate the Lord’s death and resurrection in the Holy Supper profess that it signifies life in communion with Christ and await his coming in glory.
§ 1401 When, in the Ordinary’s judgment, a grave necessity arises, Catholic ministers may give the sacraments of Eucharist, Penance, and Anointing of the Sick to other Christians not in full communion with the Catholic Church, who ask for them of their own will, provided they give evidence of holding the Catholic faith regarding these sacraments and possess the required dispositions.
Rabbi Yeshua the High Priest
Rabbi Yeshua was of the tribe of Judah, the line of kings. He was not a priest in the line of Aaron; he never sacrificed an animal and never entered the Temple’s Holy of Holies. “For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests” Heb 7:14.
Rabbi Yeshua was the high priest in the order of Melchizedek. Riding into Jerusalem humbly on a donkey Mt 21:5, he showed all who saw him that he was a “priest of God Most High” Gen 14:18 before celebrating the Final Sacrifice.
As we recall, the lifting up of hands forms the image of the Hebrew letter shin. In all the Old Testament there were only two occasions when someone lifted up his hands and blessed the people. In both cases it was the high priest who had just completed a sacrifice. “Then Aaron lifted up his hands toward the people and blessed them” Lev 9:22. “Then Simon came down, and lifted up his hands over the whole congregation of the sons of Israel, to pronounce the blessing of the Lord with his lips, and to glory in his name” Sir 50:20. The Risen Rabbi Yeshua, moments before ascending to the Father, “led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them” Lk 24:50. By following Aaron and Shimon HaTzadik in lifting up his hands, Rabbi Yeshua affirmed that he was the high priest who had just completed the Final Sacrifice. They understood.
The Priests He Ordained
The Risen Rabbi Yeshua told Mary Magdalene, “Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father” Jn 20:17. Yet he told Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side” Jn 20:27. Why would the Risen Rabbi Yeshua allow his shlikhim, but not Mary Magdalene, to touch him?
The shlikhim could touch Rabbi Yeshua after his Final Sacrifice because they were priests. The shlikhim had been ordained as bishops at the Last Supper with the words, “Do this in remembrance of me” Lk 22:19. Bishops have the fullness of priestly power. Rabbi Yeshua confirmed the shlikhim’s priesthood by giving them another priestly power, the keys to heaven. “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” Jn 20:23.6
God had commanded Moses that only priests are allowed to touch “the holy things” Num 4:15, including the sacrifice before the offering is consummated. King David had repeated it: “No one but the Levites may carry the ark of God, for the Lord chose them to carry the ark of the Lord and to minister to him for ever” 1 Chron 15:2.
In the Temple sacrifices, the smoke rising from the altar had to ascend straight up toward heaven before the sacrifice was complete. Rabbi Yeshua, the Son of David and Final Sacrifice, also ascended. “And when he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight” Acts 1:9.
The Apostolic Succession
The Old Law, inspired by God and promulgated by Moses, set up a priesthood, which was, in this manner, of divine institution; and determined for it every detail of its duty, residence and rite. It would seem that God, in his great care for them, wished to impress upon the still primitive mind of the Jewish people one great central idea. This idea throughout the history of the chosen people, was to shed its light over all events, laws, ranks and offices: the idea of sacrifice and priesthood. These were to become, through faith in the future Messiah, a source of hope, glory, power and spiritual liberation. The temple of Solomon, astonishing in richness and splendor, was still more wonderful in its rites and ordinances. Erected to the one true God as a tabernacle of the divine Majesty upon earth, it was also a sublime poem sung to that sacrifice and that priesthood, which, though type and symbol, was still so august, that the sacred figure of its High Priest moved the conqueror Alexander the Great, to bow in reverence; and God Himself visited his wrath upon the impious king Balthasar because he made revel with the sacred vessels of the temple. Yet that ancient priesthood derived its greatest majesty and glory from being a foretype of the Christian priesthood; the priesthood of the New and eternal Covenant sealed with the Blood of the Redeemer of the world, Jesus Christ, true God and true Man.
The high priest before whom Alexander the Great bowed down was Shimon HaTzadik. We recall that before every battle Alexander had dreamed about a strange man, whom he saw as an omen of victory. When Alexander arrived in Jerusalem he met the man he had seen so often in his dreams: Shimon HaTzadik! Shaken, Alexander the military genius actually bowed down before the Jewish sage. Shimon persuaded Alexander that the Jews were not enemies of the Greeks, but that the Samaritans were. Alexander spared the Temple, and Israel including Jerusalem was peacefully absorbed into the Greek Empire (Mishna Yoma 69a). After Shimon HaTzadik’s time most Jews began to absorb the pagan Greek culture.
The Book of Hebrews tells us, “The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office; but [Rabbi Yeshua] holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues for ever” Heb 7:23–24. What does it mean that Rabbi Yeshua continues forever? It means that his earthly priesthood will continue to pass through an apostolic succession to each Catholic bishop, priest, and deacon until the end of time.
Rabbi Yeshua directly connected the authority of his bishops, priests and deacons to his authority. “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me” Mt 10:40. During the Last Supper he made bishops of his shlikhim when he commanded them to consecrate and distribute the Holy Eucharist, “Do this in remembrance of me” Lk 22:19.7 That authority has crossed the centuries in a continuing line of apostolic succession. The shlikhim, the first bishops, ordained others, who ordained others, who ordained others, and so on across the centuries. As with the Aaronic priesthood, Catholic bishops, priests and deacons are ordained by smikha, laying on of hands. Every Catholic bishop, priest and deacon was ordained by a bishop who was ordained by a bishop who was ordained by a bishop … who was personally ordained at the Last Supper by Rabbi Yeshua.
Through Apostolic Succession it is Christ who reaches us: in the words of the Apostles and of their successors, it is he who speaks to us; through their hands it is he who acts in the sacraments; in their gaze it is his gaze that embraces us and makes us feel loved and welcomed into the Heart of God. 8
And so we see a man ordained to the priesthood, but when he ascends the altar and celebrates the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass he is in Persona Christi Capitis, in the person of Christ the Head [of the Church].
The Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops maintains a record of each bishop’s apostolic succession which is unbroken from the ordination of the shlikhim, the first bishops, at the Last Supper. While each bishop is a successor of the shlikhim who were all ordained to the same apostolic office by Rabbi Yeshua, the Roman Pontiff is the Successor of Kefa in the particular apostolic office of pastor of the universal Church.
The Sabbath And the Lord’s Day
“And on the seventh day God finished his work which he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all his work which he had done in creation” Gen 2:2–3. God did not tell Adam and Eve to rest; they had done no work in Eden.
Each of the first six days of creation had an evening and morning, a time of darkness before the light. But on the seventh day there was no mention of evening and morning, no darkness. Our Father blessed the seventh day and made it holy: “God is light and in him is no darkness at all” 1 Jn 1:5. He made his earthly paradise the image and likeness of heaven, a place in which his covenant children could live with him in perpetual happiness and rest.
The Hebrew word shabat, often translated “rest,” in fact means “cease,” as in “cease from work.” Many people ask why Almighty God would need to rest after the Creation. He does not rest as man does. Having completed the work, he ceased it. Rabbi Yeshua said on a Sabbath, “My Father is working still, and I am working” Jn 5:17.
The divine rest of the seventh day does not allude to an inactive God, but emphasizes the fullness of what has been accomplished. It speaks, as it were, of God’s lingering before the “very good” work (Gen 1:31) which his hand has wrought, in order to cast upon it a gaze full of joyous delight. This is a ‘contemplative’ gaze which does not look to new accomplishments but enjoys the beauty of what has already been achieved. It is a gaze which God casts upon all things, but in a special way upon man, the crown of creation. It is a gaze which already discloses something of the nuptial shape of the relationship which God wants to establish with the creature made in his own image, by calling that creature to enter a pact of love.
God had blessed the seventh day, making it the Lord’s Day. Our Father’s first mention of the Sabbath for man was in connection with the manna, the foretaste of the Holy Eucharist by which his Son would sustain his people. The Sabbath was instituted in Moses’ time, when our Father directed the Israelites to live one day a week as Adam and Eve had lived in Eden, without work: “You shall keep my sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you” Ex 31:13.
Rabbi Yeshua Re-Stated Nine Commandments
Rabbi Yeshua re-stated nine of the Ten Commandments: § 1 “You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve” Mt 4:10. § 2 “Do not swear at all, … Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil Mt 5:34–37.” § 4-10 “You shall not kill, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself” Mt 19:18–19. The command to love our neighbor fulfills the Ninth and Tenth Commandments, which prohibit coveting what belongs to our neighbor.
He did not re-state the commandment to keep holy the Sabbath. Rather, he declared, “It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath” Mt 12:12 and “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath” Mk 2:27.
The Risen Yeshua Changed the Emphasis
Rabbi Yeshua during his mortal life remained under the Law, and so he observed the Sabbath. But we recall that his rising from the tomb created the world anew. The first creation was ex nihilo, from nothing, but Rabbi Yeshua‘s new creation was ex vetere, from the old. He rose from the dead on a Sunday Mt 28:1; Jn 20:1, and celebrated Mass at Emmaus on the same day Lk 24:30, thereby marking Sunday in his New and Eternal Covenant as the “eighth” day of the week, the § 2174 Lord’s Day, the day par excellencefor Celebrating the Liturgy.
§ 349 “The eighth day. But for us a new day has dawned: the day of Christ’s Resurrection. The seventh day completes the first creation. The eighth day begins the new creation. Thus, the work of creation culminates in the greater work of redemption. The first creation finds its meaning and its summit in the new creation in Christ, the splendor of which surpasses that of the first creation.” The Church’s main explanation for the Lord’s Day is § 2174-2176.
But, even before that, Jewish gematria recognized the “eighth day.” Jewish apocalyptic writings describe the day of the Mashiakh as a “new day,” referring to it as the “eighth day” because the Mashiakh’s day would be a day outside of creation. The Kli Yakarexplains that the number eight is very different from the number seven.9 Seven symbolizes the natural, daily pattern of life, as in the seven days in the week. Eight symbolizes what is higher than nature, or supernatural. God put his holiness in all the things around us, but we cannot always see it openly. The number eight is connected with revealing his holiness for everyone to see.
Yet Rabbi Yeshua revealed what had always been embedded in the Torah. Our Father had blessed the seventh day as the Lord’s Day Gen 2:3. The Sabbath was a reminder of Eden, the image and likeness of heaven. When Rabbi Yeshua re-opened paradise he also restored the Lord’s Day as the image and likeness of heaven, with the promise that we too, anticipating heavenly glory through the New and Eternal Covenant, will one day be resurrected to eternal life with Rabbi Yeshua.
The “eight day” was much more than a Jewish piety that the Church picked up. The eighth day is the day of the brit milah, the covenant of circumcision. God commanded Abraham, “He that is eight days old among you shall be circumcised” Gen 17:12. He told Moses, “And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised” Lev 12:3. Each Hebrew man entered our Father’s covenant on the eighth day of his earthly life. The eighth day was extremely important in the halakha. A circumcision had to occur on schedule even if the eighth day fell on a shabat.
It was so with John the Baptizer, “And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child” Lk 1:59 and six months later with the Son of God, “And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus” Lk 2:21.
The Torah originally commanded the people Israel to celebrate pesakh for seven days. “Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread.” However, during the Babylonian Exile, some doubt arose regarding the exact dates on which the holidays should be celebrated. To solve the problem, the rabbis added an extra day to each festival, including Passover.
This eighth day of pesakh was traditionally associated with Jewish hope for the age of the Mashiakh. The haftarah read on that day includes Isaiah’s prophecies, “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him” Is 11:1–2. “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them” Is 11:6, and “He will raise an ensign for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth” Is 11:12.
Jews still associate the eighth day of Passover with the coming of the Mashiakh. About 250 years ago the Baal Shem Tov instituted a custom which underlines the connection between the Redemption and the eighth day of pesakh: on that day he would partake of the Mashiakh’s festive meal.
We recall that Yehuda HaMaccabi had only one day’s supply of the oil for the Temple’s eternal lamp. But it took eight days to have new oil pressed from ritually purified olives and prepared for the lamp. Yet the one day’s supply of olive oil burned for eight days until he could obtain more.
The great menorah in the Temple had seven lamps. The westernmost lamp, above the others and not counted with them, was called the ner Elohim, and the shamash. Again we see the theme of the eighth as associated with God.
The Jewish Christians Become Visibly Different
Rabbi Yeshua had declared that his two great commandments fulfilled all the law and the prophets Mt 22:37–40, so they knew the mitzvot, including Sabbath worship, were no longer salvific for them. Rabbi Yokhanan told us, “Any one who denies the Son does not have the Father. He who confesses the Son has the Father also” 1 Jn 2:23. But they continued for reasons of culture and tradition. The Council of Jerusalem in AD 49 set aside the law of circumcision for Gentile Christians, the sign of God’s covenant with his people Israel, because for them it was neither salvific nor a tradition Acts 15:1–41. But the Council said nothing about Sabbath vs. Sunday worship, so it was not an issue then.
After the Council set aside the law on circumcision, Jewish Christians reconsidered whether they were still under the law as regards the Sabbath. Certainly questions about the Sabbath, and about the kosher laws, and festivals were addressed to Rabbi Shaul, because he wrote, “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a sabbath. These are only a shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ” Col 2:16–17.
By AD 60 the Jewish Christians had become visibly different. Following the risen Rabbi Yeshua’s celebrations of Mass on Sunday, they began to worship on Sunday. In AD 64 Nero blamed Christians, not Jews, for the fires he set in Rome.
By AD 135 St. Barnabas, in his Epistle of Barnabas § 15, confirmed that the change was based on Rabbi Yeshua’s resurrection and ascension into heaven: “Your present Sabbaths are not acceptable to me, but that is which I have made, [namely this,] when, giving rest to all things, I shall make a beginning of the eighth day, that is, a beginning of another world. Wherefore, also, we keep the eighth day with joyfulness, the day also on which Jesus rose again from the dead.”
By AD 151 St. Justin Martyr, 1 Apology § 67, wrote: “Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Savior on the same day rose from the dead.”
Our Father began his creation of the universe on the first day of the week Gen 1:5. His Son rose from the dead on the same day of the week Jn 20:1, celebrated the first Mass after his resurrection on the same day Lk 24:30, and ascended into heaven on the same day. Sunday is certainly the Lord’s Day.
We may even add, “Consecrate to me all the first-born; whatever is the first to open the womb among the sons of Israel, both of man and of beast, is mine” Ex 13:2.
Today Catholic teaching is clear. § 2175 “Sunday is expressly distinguished from the sabbath which it follows chronologically every week; for Christians its ceremonial observance replaces that of the sabbath. In Christ’s Passover, Sunday fulfills the spiritual truth of the Jewish sabbath and announces man’s eternal rest in God.”
Sunday as Easter Joy
St. John Paul II tells us in Dies Domini § 8: “For the Christian, Sunday is above all an Easter celebration, wholly illuminated by the glory of the Risen Christ.” How important is it? John Paul II cites St. Justin’s declaration to Antonius in the day of the early Christians § 46: “When, during the persecution of Diocletian, their assemblies were banned with the greatest severity, many were courageous enough to defy the imperial decree and accepted death rather than miss the Sunday Eucharist.” John Paul II also cited the martyrs of Abitina, in Proconsular Africa, who replied to their accusers: “Without fear of any kind we have celebrated the Lord’s Supper, because it cannot be missed; that is our law.” The martyrs added: “We cannot live without the Lord’s Supper.”
“And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes” Acts 2:46.
Holy Mother Church offers us two ways to receive the Host: on the tongue, or in the hand. Either way, the priest says, “The Body of Christ,” and we reply Amen. The priest then serves us Holy Communion.
The General Instruction of the Roman Missal § 274, says: “All who pass before the Most Blessed Sacrament genuflect, unless they are moving in procession.”
When we enter or leave our pew, we genuflect, bending our right knee all the way to touching the ground) to show our adoration for the Son of God present in the tabernacle. Catholics who are physically unable to genuflect bow instead. We genuflect toward the crucifix or the altar. The Second Council of Nicaea in AD 787 taught that the devotion we show to sacred images passes beyond them to their prototypes, for instance from the crucifix to Rabbi Yeshua himself. It is, therefore, perfectly orthodox to genuflect before a cross, crucifix, or image of Rabbi Yeshua.
In some devout parishes children are taught to genuflect before their mothers as they return from the altar having received the Real Presence. A woman with the Real Presence within her body recalls the Blessed Virgin Mary, and that image is increased if she wears a mantilla. They are in that way worshiping Rabbi Yeshua within the woman’s body. Where this custom is cherished the pastor should explain that the child’s worship is to Rabbi Yeshua within his mother.
On the Tongue
For nearly two thousand years every Catholic received on the tongue. The priest says, “The Body of Christ.” We reply, “Amen.” We open our mouth and the priest places the Host on our tongue. When he does we chew and swallow the Host.
A half century ago, before Vatican II, the sweet nuns who were numerous in the Church then taught their students never to chew the Host. They did not want to think of our Lord being chewed with our teeth. Rabbi Yeshua, however, speaking of the Holy Eucharist in John 6:48–59 repeatedly said we are to chew the Host. He used an Aramaic word that St. John translated into Greek as trogon, which specifically means to chew or gnaw. It is perfectly okay to chew the Host.
Catholics who prefer to receive on the tongue, myself included, relish the thought that we’re receiving the same way as the saints in heaven. St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, St. Maximilian Kolbe and thousands of other holy saints during their earthly lives received on the tongue.
In the Hand
In some countries the practice of receiving Communion in the hand has been introduced. This practice has been requested by individual episcopal conferences and has received approval from the Apostolic See. However, cases of a deplorable lack of respect towards the eucharistic species have been reported, cases which are imputable not only to the individuals guilty of such behavior but also to the pastors of the church who have not been vigilant enough regarding the attitude of the faithful towards the Eucharist. It also happens, on occasion, that the free choice of those who prefer to continue the practice of receiving the Eucharist on the tongue is not taken into account in those places where the distribution of Communion in the hand has been authorized. It is therefore difficult in the context of this present letter not to mention the sad phenomena previously referred to. This is in no way meant to refer to those who, receiving the Lord Jesus in the hand, do so with profound reverence and devotion, in those countries where this practice has been authorized.
St. John Paul added in § 11, “How eloquent therefore, even if not of ancient custom, is the rite of the anointing of the hands in our Latin ordination, as though precisely for these hands a special grace and power of the Holy Spirit is necessary!” He adds, “To touch the sacred species and to distribute them with their own hands is a privilege of the ordained, one which indicates an active participation in the ministry of the Eucharist.”
Still, the USCCB authorized reception in the hand as well, and left the choice to each parishioner. We may receive in the hand if we prefer. To do so we place our left hand over our right to make a throne for the Lord. The priest says, “The Body of Christ,” we reply, “Amen,” and the priest places the Host in our left hand. To allow the Communion line to keep moving, most Catholics who receive in the hand immediately take one step to the right so that the next person in line can receive. Then we move our right hand to take the Host, place him in our mouth, and immediately chew and swallow him.
He Who Gnaws
Sola Scriptura believers who think more deeply about God notice something else. St. John quotes Rabbi Yeshua as using the familiar Greek word for “eat” during His initial proclamation, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat [phagete] the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” Jn 6:53. But then He switches to a more emphatic and precise Greek word, trogon, chew or gnaw: “He who eats [trogon] my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life” Jn 6:54. Rabbi Yeshua continued, “He who eats [trogon] my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” Jn 6:56. “As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats [trogon] me will live because of me” Jn 6:57. Then, in the last sentence of His bread of life discourse, Jesus makes the distinction crystal clear by using both words in the same sentence: “This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate [ephagon] and died; he who eats [trogon] this bread will live for ever” Jn 6:58.
We can gnaw only solid food, not milk. Rabbi Yeshua told us what “solid food” is. “For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed” Jn 6:55. St. John’s original Greek word for “indeed” describing His flesh and also His blood is alethes, which literally means “true.” St. Paul explained the distinction to the Corinthians. “I fed you with milk, not solid food; for you were not ready for it … you are still of the flesh” 1 Cor 3:2–3. The Author of Hebrews was even more specific: “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of God ’s word. You need milk, not solid food; for every one who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their faculties trained by practice to distinguish good from evil” Heb 5:12–14.
Receiving the living Rabbi Yeshua into our body is a serious matter with eternal consequences. Received worthily, He is eternal life. Recall: “He who eats [trogon] my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life” Jn 6:54. Rabbi Yeshua used trogon to show that only the spiritually mature can receive His sacramental body and blood worthily. St. Paul warns, “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself” 1 Cor 11:27–29.
The New and Eternal Covenant
“And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes” Acts 2:4.
We receive Rabbi Yeshua‘s Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, whole and entire, all that he is and all that he has. And we give him our body and blood, soul and humanity, all that we are and all that we have.
The Exchange of Persons with God
The New and Eternal Covenant is a mutual exchange of persons, initiated by God’s free and overflowing love, in the form of a sacrifice and a solemn agreement. We find this in the Sacraments of Holy Eucharist, Holy Orders, and Holy Matrimony. During the Mass, as the priest prepares for the Consecration, he says, “Pray, brethren (brothers and sisters), that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father.” My sacrifice and yours! In the sanctuary we watch the ministerial priest, in persona Christi capitis, prepare for his sacrifice while, in the pews, we the royal priests, prepare for ours.
Rabbi Kefa told us, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” 1 Pet 2:9. Each of us, as a royal priest, offers the sacrifice of our self to Rabbi Yeshua. This is why the Holy Eucharist is the § 1324 “source and summit of the Christian life.”
In the primacy of sacrifice we recall that, from the beginning, when God gives to us, we his image and likeness Gen 1:26–27 also give to him. Since Rabbi Yeshua is true God and true man, by imitating him we become more and more like him. What we see Rabbi Yeshua do, we also do. Pope Paul VI wrote in Gaudium et Spes, § 22:
The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light.… As an innocent lamb he merited for us life by the free shedding of his own blood. In him God reconciled us to Himself and among ourselves … By suffering for us he not only provided us with an example for our imitation, he blazed a trail, and if we follow it, life and death are made holy and take on a new meaning.
What more do I ask than that you give yourself entirely to me? I care not for anything else you may give me, for I seek not your gift but you. Just as it would not be enough for you to have everything if you did not have me, so whatever you give cannot please me if you do not give yourself. Offer yourself to me, therefore, and give yourself entirely for God — your offering will be accepted. Behold, I offered myself wholly to the Father for you, I even gave my whole Body and Blood for food that I might be all yours, and you mine forever.
We give our life to Rabbi Yeshua by preparing for heaven. We prepare for heaven by reflecting his glory back to him and to all those around us, becoming more like him than like the fallen humanity we are. Rabbi Yeshua always forgave, even from the cross, and told us: “You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment” Mt 5:21. Faithful Catholics are a people spiritually apart, shining lights in this dark and darkening world. Fallen humanity seeks revenge but Rabbi Yeshua’s faithful forgive. Fallen humanity is filled with lust but Rabbi Yeshua’s faithful are chaste. Fallen humanity is filled with hate but Rabbi Yeshua’s faithful are filled with love. Rabbi Yeshua’s family is visibly his image and likeness.
Rabbi Yokhanan HaMatbil on first seeing Rabbi Yeshua, proclaimed, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” Jn 1:29. This exchange of persons is how Rabbi Yeshua takes away the sins of the world. When we give him everything, all that we are and all that we have, that he might consume us, is how he takes away our sins. When he gives us his Body and Blood, we consume his shining purity. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” Mt 5:8.
Giving ourselves to him whole and entire is a titanic battle. Our pride resists strenuously, wants to withhold something. We have to empty ourselves Phil 2:7 to make room for the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. The Hebrew root krv gives us three closely related words. The first is korban, the Temple sacrifice. The second is karov, close or near. Our korban makes us his krovi mishpakha, intimate family. The third is krav, battle. True sacrifice is always a battle. The name Israel itself reflects a struggle with God. “Your name shall no more be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed” Gen 32:28.
If we give him anything less than our self whole and entire, a lifelong commitment to put him first in every time and place, we are giving him Cain’s careless sacrifice Gen 4:5. Jeremiah’s vision of two baskets, “Figs, the good figs very good, and the bad figs very bad, so bad that they cannot be eaten,” Jer 24:3 reminds us that God will accept the good fruit, but not the bad. St. Paul warns us to keep the New and Eternal Covenant: “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord” 1 Cor 11:27.
Rabbi Yeshua, knowing our fallen nature, gave us an emergency backup plan, the Sacrament of Penance, and encourages us to use it frequently. “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” Mt 16:19; 18:18.
The Exchange of Persons with One Another
Rabbi Yeshua told us, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” Jn 13:34–35. We are God’s image and likeness Gen 1:26–27. As the incarnate Rabbi Yeshua loved us, we are to love one another with the same love. Rabbi Yeshua was ready and willing to die on the Cross for us. He calls us to be ready to die on the Cross for one another.
Certainly this requires God’s abiding grace. He gave us this grace during our baptism, when we were baptized into his death Rom 6:3–4. And it is possible for men. American soldiers in combat platoons overseas often say openly that they are a band of brothers, willing to die for one another, and they do. We see men jump onto a live grenade, choosing certain death so that nearby soldiers would live. Most are known only to God, and sometimes within their band of brothers, as Catholics who live and die for love of one another are known always to God, and sometimes within their families. A very few are canonized as saints, and very few soldiers who live and die for one another are added to the rolls of Medal of Honor recipients. We Catholics are Rabbi Yeshua’s soldiers for the Church Militant in the spiritual war, fighting an enemy more tenacious than any soldiers see on the battlefield.
Holy Mother Church’s Communion Rite includes the Rite of Peace, the priest’s fulfillment of Rabbi Yeshua’s heartfelt prayer that our oneness may be as the Holy Trinity’s oneness Jn 17:11, 22: “Lord Jesus Christ, who said to your Apostles: ‘Peace I leave you, my peace I give you.’ Look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church, and graciously grant her peace and unity in accordance with your will. Who live and reign for ever and ever.” As a sign of our hope for that peace and unity we reply, Amen.
The priest then says, “The peace of the Lord be with you always,” and we reply, “And with your spirit.” In this way the priest reminds us of a crucial distinction. We are called to love one another.
The calling to like one another is different. We are a fallen race, very different from one another. Some people are just plain difficult to like, or difficult for a particular person to like. St. Thérèse of Lisieux showed us how to gain heaven by loving and liking even disagreeable persons. Rabbi Yeshua calls us to love our neighbor’s soul, to wish him well in this life and in the life to come, and do what we can to help him reach heaven, even as we make a prudent judgment that this can best be accomplished at some distance from him.
In the spiritual war as Rabbi Yeshua’s soldiers we are fighting against Satan’s forces Eph 6:12. Every human soul is God’s image and likeness, Gen 1:26–27. If we acquiesce in, or worse root for, any human soul’s loss, we had better remember Rabbi Yeshua, “For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get” Mt 7:2.
When the risen Rabbi Yeshua blessed his shlikhim, “Peace be with you” Jn 20:19, 21, 26, he was referring back to his earlier, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you” Jn 14:27. The Hebrew root shlm gives us shalem, completion, and shalom, peace. In the Hebrew mind, only completion brings true peace. Rabbi Yeshua was telling them, “Heaven be with you.” So, when we turn to one another in our pews and greet our neighbor, “Peace be with you” Jn 20:19, 21, 26, or, “The peace of Christ,” short for the priest’s, “The peace of Christ be with you always,” we are committing our immortal souls to our heartfelt love of neighbor, and by extension, God’s image and likeness Gen 1:26–27 everywhere in the world.
Rabbi Yeshua teaches us the New and Eternal Covenant of the Holy Eucharist through the ancient covenant of Holy Matrimony, in which the husband gives himself to his wife, whole and entire, all that he is and all that he has, and she gives herself to him, all that she is and all that she has, and they become one flesh. We become one flesh with Christ in Holy Communion. “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” Jn 6:56.
The Catechism, § 1385, teaches: “To respond to this invitation we must prepare ourselves for so great and so holy a moment. St. Paul urges us to examine our conscience: “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.” 1 Cor 11:27–29.
Two things come from St. Paul’s brief passage. First, did you notice the grammar? “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread OR drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body AND blood of the Lord.” Consuming one species unworthily profanes both species because they are the same spiritual substance, Rabbi Yeshua’s Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, Rabbi Yeshua whole and entire.
How would we receive unworthily? If we are tempted to go up to receive Holy Communion without preparation, without experiencing any real sense of Holy Communion with Rabbi Yeshua but only so that others will see us receiving, we need to reflect again St. Paul’s words. “For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.” 1 Cor 11:29. Far better to go up with our arms crossed over our chest and simply ask for a blessing, or wait until we can once again receive the King of Kings as he should be received.
If we give him anything less than our self whole and entire, a lifelong commitment to put him first in every time and place, we are giving him Cain’s careless sacrifice Gen 4:5. Jeremiah’s vision of two baskets, “Figs, the good figs very good, and the bad figs very bad, so bad that they cannot be eaten” Jer 24:3, reminds us that God will eat, take into himself, the good fruit, but he will not eat bad fruit. St. Paul warns us to keep the New and Eternal Covenant: “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord” 1 Cor 11:27.
The True Faith
The awesome truth of the Catholic faith is visible in many ways. One is inherent in the very structure of God’s revelation to man.
God, eternal and unchanging Mal 3:6, always teaches the truth about himself by giving his people three things: First, he gives us a written sacred scripture that will embed his core revelation to us in solid rock for all ages. Second, he knows that we learn slowly, over time Jn 16:13, so he gives us a Sacred Tradition of Apostolic teaching that the Holy Spirit can inspire to provide development of doctrine as we grow in faith and understanding. Third, he gives us an authoritative interpreter, a vicar connected to Rabbi Yeshua through the apostolic succession who lives on earth and answers the questions on faith, how we love God, and morals, how we love one another, that arise in each age. In this way the Good Shepherd Jn 10:11 is with us always, as he promised. The vicar’s teaching authority is rooted in God’s Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition of Apostolic teaching, and visibly comes from God himself.
Israel had this triangle, the Hebrew Scriptures, the Oral Torah now written down as the Mishna, and the Sanhedrin. The Catholic Church also has its triangle, the Christian Bible, the Sacred Tradition of Apostolic teaching written down by the Church Fathers, and the line of popes. When we superimpose the two triangles on one another they look like the Star of David. Rabbi Yeshua gave us his great command to love God Mt 22:37, establishing the vertical relationship between God and man, and its echo, the command to love one another Mt 22:39, establishing the horizontal relationship between man and man. Together they form the Cross on which he redeemed the world.
§ 1061 The Creed, like the last book of the Bible, ends with the Hebrew word amen. This word frequently concludes prayers in the New Testament. The Church likewise ends her prayers with “Amen.”
§ 1062 In Hebrew, amen comes from the same root as the word “believe.” This root expresses solidity, trustworthiness, faithfulness. And so we can understand why “Amen” may express both God’s faithfulness towards us and our trust in him.
§ 1063 In the book of the prophet Isaiah, we find the expression “God of truth” (literally “God of the Amen”), that is, the God who is faithful to his promises: “He who blesses himself in the land shall bless himself by the God of truth [amen]. Our Lord often used the word “Amen,” sometimes repeated, to emphasize the trustworthiness of his teaching, his authority founded on God’s truth.
§ 1064 Thus the Creed’s final “Amen” repeats and confirms its first words: “I believe.” To believe is to say, “Amen” to God’s words, promises and commandments; to entrust oneself completely to him who is the “Amen” of infinite love and perfect faithfulness. The Christian’s everyday life will then be the “Amen” to the “I believe” of our baptismal profession of faith: May your Creed be for you as a mirror. Look at yourself in it, to see if you believe everything you say you believe. And rejoice in your faith each day.
§ 1065 Jesus Christ himself is the “Amen.” He is the definitive “Amen” of the Father’s love for us. He takes up and completes our “Amen” to the Father: “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why we utter the Amen through him, to the glory of God”:
Through him, with him, in him,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
all glory and honor is yours,
God, for ever and ever.
Rabbi Yeshua taught us, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life” Jn 6:53–54. His original words for “Truly, truly,” were “Amen, amen.” St. John directly transferred them from Hebrew into his original Greek, “amen amen.” This Hebrew word amen means Have faith! Or Believe! Jews, Catholics, and the sola Scriptura faith communities always use this Hebrew and Aramaic word amen as a solemn affirmation of truth.
All the major sola Scriptura faith communities recognize that Rabbi Yeshua used this phrase to emphasize that baptism is necessary for man’s eternal life. “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God” Jn 3:3. “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” Jn 3:5. All the major sola Scriptura faith communities accept it.
St. John quotes Rabbi Yeshua using this phrase, “Truly, truly, I say to you,” 23 other times in 23 different verses:
All the major sola Scriptura faith communities accept all the others as true.
But when Rabbi Yeshua used it at Capernaum to describe something necessary for our salvation: “… unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” Jn 6:53, the sola Scriptura faith communities that came into being 1,500 years later called it symbolic. Rabbi Yeshua knew this would be hard to accept as literally true so he added for emphasis: “My flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed” Jn 6:55.
St. Matthew: “This is my body” Mt 26:26. “This is my blood” Mt 26:27. St. Mark: “This ismy body” Mk 14:22. This is my “blood” Mk 14:24. St. Luke: “This is my body” Lk 22:19. “This … is the new covenant in my blood” Lk 22:20. Rabbi Yeshua’s next words instituted the Catholic priesthood: “Do this in remembrance of me” Lk 22:19. Rabbi Yeshua had used the Hebrew word zakhor, remember, which brings what is remembered into the present. “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them” Mt 18:20.
The King James Version adds to the Lord’s Prayer, “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen” Mt 6:13. All the King James sola Scriptura faith communities mean it literally. Messianic Jews use this same word amen as the deepest affirmation of their own prayers. When a sola Scriptura believer reads Rabbi Yeshua’s “Amen, amen,” he has to conclude that Rabbi Yeshua meant it literally. And that means he has to join a church where the Blessed Sacrament is offered by a priest in the line of Rabbi Yeshua‘s apostolic succession.
The sola Scriptura faith communities still say that Rabbi Yeshua had been speaking only symbolically. The rebuttal Second Exodus often hears is “It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” Jn 6:63. But Rabbi Yeshua said we are to eat the flesh of the Son of man to have eternal life. He did not say the flesh. In His time the flesh meant sinful humanity without God Rom 8. And which words did Rabbi Yeshua mean are spirit and life? Certainly, “Every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” Mt 4:4, but in that time and place he surely meant to emphasize as spirit and life the words he had just spoken moments earlier and affirmed with “Amen, amen.”