Holy Bible or Holy Scripture is God’s Word spoken to men at different times and through different people, but always with the same message: God loves men and offers salvation. God speaks directly to some people, for example the prophets, and then they speak in His name. Some lives and destinies are in themselves God’s message. God has spoken through images and stories, and St Paul summarises everything in a few simple words: „In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets…“ (Heb 1:1)
Jesus’s discourse on the Bread of Life was a prophetic announcement of the Eucharist. Whatever Jesus said or did in order to explain His love was accomplished in the Eucharist, which is the fulfilment of the greatest promise of God, namely that He would remain with His people.
As a preparation for the eucharistic celebration and without long explanations, let us read the most important biblical texts that concern this sacrament, in which God acts in such a special way.
- THE OLD TESTAMENT
- A) A Lamb without Blemish
In Egypt, the Hebrew people were slaves. They were ill-treated and they suffered. In those difficult days, they did not forget the God of their fathers, and He decided to set them free. Before the Exodus, something happened that was understood by the Israelites as a special sign of God’s presence. Much later, this was interpreted as a prophetic event, which concerns Jesus Christ and the Redemption, especially the Eucharist. We speak about the sacrifice of the lamb without blemish, whose blood saved the Israelites. This is why we mention so often the Lamb during the eucharistic celebration.
Let us always remember this event – the Passover, the passage of the Lord – for it will help us understand better the depth, the height and the significance of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Jesus instituted the Eucharist on Holy Thursday, during the celebration of the Passover with His disciples, because God commanded the Israelites to remember their Exodus and to be grateful for it. All Jews celebrate the Passover. Jesus with His disciples also celebrated the Passover.
Let us read a passage from the Book of Exodus:
„The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month shall be for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month they shall take every man a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household; and if the household is too small for a lamb, then a man and his neighbour next to his house shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old; you shall take it from the sheep or from the goats; and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs in the evening.
Then they shall take some of the blood, and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat them. They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled with water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. And you shall let none of it remain until the morning, anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. In this manner you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will smite all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. The blood shall be a sign for you, upon the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall fall upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt“. (Ex 12:1-13)
(Barbarić, Slavko. 2018. Celebrate Mass with the heart.)