MARK 14:12-16, 22-26
On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples said to him, “Where do you want us to go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” He sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city and a man will meet you, carrying a jar of water. Follow him. Wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?” ’ Then he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready. Make the preparations for us there.” The disciples then went off, entered the city, and found it just as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover.
While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many. Amen, I say to you, I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it new in the Kingdom of God.” Then, after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
The healing covenant
Every Holy Thursday, when we commemorate the institution of the Holy Eucharist, we meditate on the real presence of the Lord in the sacred bread and wine. By using the Gospel of Mark for our reading today, however, the Church intends to also stress that the Eucharist is the sacrifice of the new covenant. It is a memorial of Jesus’ offering of his body and blood on the cross so that our broken relationship with God can be healed. The Gospel narrates: “He took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, and said, ‘Take it; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. He said to them, ‘This is MY BLOOD OF THE COVENANT, which will be shed for many’ (vv 22-24).”
The pact or covenant made by the Lord with Israel in Sinai has been sealed by the blood of sacrificial animals. In our First Reading, some of the blood of young bulls were sprinkled to the people while Moses informed them: “This is the blood of the covenant which the LORD has made with you” (Ex 24:8). With this covenant the people of Israel became his chosen people: “If you hearken to my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my special possession, dearer to me than all other people…You shall be to me a kingdom of priests, a holy nation” (Ex 19:5-6). God’s people were not able to keep up with that covenant.
Their disobedience brought death and enmity with the God who designed their own salvation and happiness. Now, another covenant has to be made. But still, this covenant was sealed by blood like that of Sinai—but not anymore with the blood of young bulls but by the very blood of God’s beloved Son. As the old covenant of Sinai was sealed by blood (Heb 9:18), so the new covenant is sealed in an incomparably more perfect way by the blood of Jesus on Calvary. That Jesus is the unblemished sacrifice that made possible a new covenant that restores the broken relationship between God and his people is the whole point of the Second Reading.
Our Gospel explains this by presenting Jesus’ last Passover meal with his disciples that represent us all. It is a meal that displays a gracious Father who reconciles us all to himself through his Son. It is a meal that signifies the creation of a new spiritual covenant between us and him.
SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2021,” ST. PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 632-895-9701; Fax 632-895-7328; E-mail: [email protected]; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.