Mark 14: 12-16, 22-26
Since time immemorial, blood has been the symbol of life! It is the innermost red river that flows in the very depth of every man and woman. In many ancient worships and religions, shedding of blood expresses the highest form of sacrifice. In covenant ceremonies, blood is sacrificed by cutting an animal into halves to show the seriousness of the obligation. The partners in the covenant take an oath to be faithful by marching between the halves lest they also be cut in halves should they be unfaithful.
Jesus initiated the New Covenant with us through His blood. He did this by giving a new meaning to the Jewish Passover by transforming it into the Eucharist which henceforth will be the new salvific event for all peoples. We may say that the Last Supper is the “blood compact” of Jesus which makes us one with Him, with God and with one another. We all become “blood-related” hence our unity being symbolized by the crushed wheat and grapes in the Eucharist. The wine transformed into blood by the words of Jesus “This is my blood of the covenant” and the bread into His body “This is my body” during the Last Supper would be the prefiguration of the ultimate sacrifice on the Cross.
Unlike other sacrifices, the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross was perfect and unrepeatable being the High Priest of the New Covenant. When we offer the Mass, the priest does not repeat the sacrifice of Jesus but rather he re-lives it and makes it present together with the community that celebrates it. The sacrifice offered by the faithful transforms them into the mystery they celebrate, namely they become the visible manifestation of the Mystical Body of Christ which is the Church.
The sacrifice is not just an offering of worship to God but God accepting that sacrifice and transforming it and given back to us as food. God takes what we offer and makes it alive; it becomes His Body and Blood served in a banquet. Like the Last Supper, it is a meal that we share together as covenanted friends. And because we partake in the cup of the blood of Christ, we renew that blood-compact which is our covenant with God and with each other. The blood of Christ which is mixed with our human blood makes us all together sacred because His blood is running through our veins. And because we partake in the flesh of Christ our bodies are transformed into the temples of God. This divine life which is given to us through Baptism grows as we eat the Eucharistic food again and again.
This is the beauty and the grandeur of the Eucharist. That is why Vatican II proclaims that the Eucharist is the apex of the Christian life.