In the Gospel reading today we have Jesus instituting the Eucharist, in which their are four distinct movements: taking, blessing, breaking, giving. Jesus took the bread, blessed the bread, broke the bread and then gave the bread.
Whenever we have a Eucharistic Celebration we say those same words during the Eucharistic Prayer, and we also actually act them out. The priest takes the bread, many times presented during an Offertory procession. During the Eucharistic Prayer the bread is blessed. After the Lord's Prayer the priest breaks the bread, many times accompanied by a Fraction Anthem. And then the bread is given to the people to share in the meal. In word and action we are mimicking The Last Supper, at each and every Eucharist.
Shortly after I had first chatted with the rector of my sponsoring parish about this odd desire I felt, this tug to investigate ordination, I attended an instructed Eucharist. At this Eucharist the second lesson was a reading from Paul, where these words we hear in Matthew today are uttered. I was asked to read these words, and it was the first time I said them aloud: take, bless, break, give. I can still remember the chill that ran down my spine when I said those words. That same kind of unnerving chill (magnified a hundredfold) went through me when I was Celebrant at my first Eucharist.
These are important words. These are important actions. They are a recreation of that fateful last meal. They are, by word and by deed, signs that: Christ was here, Christ was killed, Christ rose from the dead and is with us still.
Copyright 2008, John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.