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The Last Paschal Meal of Our Lord and God Jesus Christ

The contradicting fact is that this kind divine-human union is only possible in heaven; it is only in heaven humans can be in a perpetual union with God. How could Jesus bring heaven on earth, which is naturally impossible? How could this longing for union be materialized on earth?

In order to find a solution to this problem, we have to go back to Capernaum, where Jesus made the following promise: “Most assuredly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever 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 {Stress added by this writer}. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down from heaven- not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever” (John 6:53-58). Yes, the solution is clear. The love between Christ and His Church (parenthetically which is His bride according to Paul) is thus consummated right here on earth as we make this pilgrimage to our eternal abode.

Immediately after pronouncing the statement, “This is My Body”, Jesus added “Take eat of it”, and after “This is My blood”, He added “Drink of it all of you”. Jesus was calling us for a complete union with Him on earth so that the natural craving of love for union could be realized, so that He may abide in us and we in Him. What else we need for a complete union.

It is liturgically fitting for us to think about another dimension of our Eucharistic worship. We have already stated that the actual union between Christ and His Church is possible only in heaven (that is why Jesus was confronted with this problem). But Orthododox liturgiologists emphatically state that the priesthood of the Church sacramentally creates a heaven in the sanctuary of every Church as the canon of the Liturgy starts. When the priest says before the Words of Institution, “Let our minds and hearts be above where our Lord Jesus Christ sits at the right hand of the Father”, it is a call for us to be in heaven and a reminder that we are all in heaven, a heaven created by the sacramental act of the priesthood, where the union between Christ and His Church sacramentally is effected.

As this writer was meditating on the mystery of the Pascha, he was wondering what a tremendous lover we have in Jesus. The love between human lovers fades away as years pass. God’s love is promised all the way until we reach the heavenly abode. Just as the lovers enrich each other emotionally and spiritually, He nourishes and enriches us in every Eucharistic Liturgy with an unending promise of abiding in us; when He abides in us, we will also abide in Him. This is the genuine union between Christ and His Church.

These are the mysteries behind the Last Supper of our Lord.

Orthodox Christians, when you celebrate the Passover, or Pascha, or Pesach, remember the reasons why the Lord instituted this mystical meal for us. Also remember to receive Holy Communion with due preparation after cleansing our souls with a genuine confession of our sins. Go to your priest to confess your sins and get reconciled with your God before receiving the Body and Blood of Christ.

May the Lord take you all to a rewarding conclusion of the Great Lent and give you the joy of His Resurrection!

*This writer is indebted to Patristic Theologian Professor W. Bughardt (All Lost in Wonder) for the basic thought in this article.

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