Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Passover/Holy Thursday Reflection

This is My Body
A Reflection for Holy Thursday 2010
By Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD
Mission Saints Sergius and Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy
For more than 3000 years, the Jewish people have celebrated a Seder which is called Pesakh, Pesach, Pesah), or Festival of Unleavened Bread in remembrance of the exodus from Egypt. The Exodus includes the deliverance from slavery in Egypt as well as the covenant between God and His people at Sinai.  Jesus and His followers, like faithful Jewish person gathered together to fulfill their obligation of celebrating the memorial of the feast of Passover. The word for memorial in Hebrew is Zikkaron and in Greek is ( anamnesis) meaning a liturgical celebration that celebrates and re-presents past mysteries of salvation.
If you remember the story, Moses told his people to sacrifice an unblemished young lamb and slaughter it and spread the blood on the doorposts and lintels of their homes, in that way the angel of Death that would sweep through Egypt would spare all those within.
The Jewish people were told to remember this passing on the fourteenth day of the first month of their calendar year. (This year 2007, the Passover began at sundown Monday April 2) This memorial celebration is what Jesus and His followers were celebrating. 
The Passover "Haggadah" or telling is broken into 15 divisions or order of the Seder.
The Passover celebration today is a celebration of all the deliverances God has provided and Jews still look for the final deliverance and exodus of the coming of the Messiah.
Christians see Christ as the person who fulfilled all things that the prophets foretold the Messiah. Even the title "Christ" means the anointed one, which is what Messiah means in Hebrew.
Christ told us he came to bring us a new covenant, Christ became the sacrificial Lamb, It was His blood that set us free from the bondage of sin. Even the words that Jesus spoke and we proclaim at every liturgy of the Eucharist " Blessed are you O Lord our God, king of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth" in Hebrew (Barukh ata Adonay, Elohenu, melekh ha olam, Ha motzi lechem min ha aretz) are the words Jesus spoke. When Jesus took the bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it to His apostles saying, "This is my Body, take and eat" and the wine "This is my Blood, the Blood of the new covenant, it will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven. Do this is remembrance of me" He became the sacrificial lamb of the Passover.
Every time we partake in the Eucharistic Celebration we are reliving the Passover Celebration, we are carrying out the command of Jesus Christ  that we celebrate the memorial feast "The memorial feast of our redemption", we recall the memory of Jesus Christ, His suffering, death and resurrection. It is most unfortunate that our English language does not really convey very well the true biblical meaning of memorial (anamnesis {GREEK} and  Zikkaron {Hebrew}.
Like the Jewish people today who faithfully follow the old covenant made by Moses with God. We, who believe Christ to be the promised one of the prophets, by our participating in the Eucharistic Liturgy, personally die and rise with Christ and we become redeemed together with Him.
By understanding the Passover, we better can understand the beautiful and fulfilling mystery of our faith and of the Eucharistic celebration.  Let us work together to realize that as true believers of Christ we need to honor and respect the traditions of the faith that gave us our redeemer and savior Jesus Christ.
Blessed are you, O Lord God, king of the universe, who has redeemed us from the land of bondage to sin and brought us to freedom and salvation by your willingness to become the sacrificial lamb of the new covenant. Unite your brothers and sisters of all nations on this earth your Almighty Father created together in love and unity so that we can gather as one family giving Almighty God and you thanksgiving and praise. AMEN

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