The Eucharist is the source and summit of our Catholic Christian faith. Eucharist is derived from "eucharistia" which means thankfulness in Greek. We gather together as a community of faith at the celebration of the Mass to be fed by both the liturgies of the Word of God and the Eucharistic. Led by the celebrant of the Mass, the community gathers at the table to partake in this joyful thanksgiving meal. We are thankful for the gift of God’s all embracing love given us through his son Jesus Christ. At this meal we gather to recall the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. We believe that Jesus is truly present in the bread and wine we consume. Why? Because he told us so, “Where two or more are gathered I am there also” and at the Last Supper he took bread …. . When we receive Holy Communion we receive the whole Person of Christ, as he is at the present moment, that is, as risen Lord, with his glorified body and soul and his full divinity. The community can experience this presence of Jesus, their Lord and Master, both in the consecrated bread and wine and in those gathered around the table.
The Last Supper was Jesus’ farewell meal with his apostles. During this meal Jesus spelled out --- by his word, “this is my body…..this is my blood” and action the breaking of the bread--- how the Father’s forgiveness and the New Covenant would come about. Imagine a Jewish family coming into the temple to offer sacrifice. The sacrifice occurs not when the priest puts the fruits or blood on the altar and the people make an internal offering of themselves. The most important part of all of this is what goes on in people's minds and hearts-the offering of their lives to God.
The Christian community has always acknowledged that Jesus’ death on the cross was the greatest of all sacrifices. Again, this is so because of what went on in his mind and heart. He really made an offering of himself. And that's where the Mass derives its value, in its relationship to this free sacrificial offering of Jesus. But the Mass is clearly not trying to replicate either the ancient sacrifices of the temple ritual or the bloody events of Calvary. The ritual gestures performed by the principal celebrant at Mass are not a stylized reenacting the slaying of Jesus. Christ our Lord could only die once; he will never die again. Rather, it is in celebrating this family meal, which we call the Mass, that we try to unite ourselves with Jesus’ act of will and attempt to summon ourselves closer to that same total self-dedication that Jesus had when he died upon the cross.
On the other hand, if people are able to take those words of Jesus to heart, the words that define the meaning of this action, This is my body….. This is the cup of my blood, and begin to comprehend what they mean-- that this is all tied into the life and death of Jesus-- and make them their own, then they, along with Jesus, can legitimately say: This is MY body; this is the cup of MY blood. It is for him the words of consecration are also words of an internal disposition that keeps reminding the community what its sharing must mean. And when we make those words our own, people ought to say: “Yes, now I see how Christ is present in these people gathered for this meal – it is through each one of these people that nourishment is given to others. As St. Augustine put it: "we must be what we have eaten." We are already the body of Christ as Church but we must become that Body still more. We must be bread for others just as Jesus is bread given for us. We are God's people only insofar as we are willing to become bread and wine, nourishment and life, body and blood for all other human beings.