Jesus gave thanks, consecrated the bread and wine, and presented his body and blood as spiritual nourishment to his apostles, and for the salvation of all (Jn 6:53-58). This Eucharist renews the same sacrifice Christ made upon the cross. The ritual sacrifice under the Old Law was the sign of the covenant between God and his people. In the New Testament the sacrifice achieves perfection through Christ. This Eucharist is therefore celebrated as a memorial of Christ’s death, burial, resurrection, and ascension into heaven. At the Mass Christ is present in this sacrament. He offers his sacrifice in the union with the church; for this reason we call the Eucharist the sacrifice of the church.
The Eucharist is a Sacrament
The Eucharist is a sacrament because Christ offers himself to the Father in the Mass just as he did on the cross, but the offering is made through the actions of the priest.
What does the Eucharist do?
1. unites the recipient to Christ,
2. gives life - “a true food” (Jn 6:54),
3. shares in the life of Christ – eternal life (Jn 6:58; Mt 5:23-24; Jn 3:19-24),
4. builds up Christ’s mystical body – the church (1 Cor 10:16-17; Jn 17:2021), and
5. serves as a heavenly banquet (1 Cor 11:26; Mt 26:29; Lk 14:16; 2 Pet 3:13).
Scott Hahn’s Catholic Bible Dictionary explains that the Eucharist is also known as the Lord’s Supper. This is a Christian sacrament that honors the actions of Jesus at the last supper. It is reported in all the Synoptic Gospels that Jesus took bread and blessed it (Mk 14:22-24). This partaking of the Eucharist is called Holy Communion. In Greek eucharistia means “thanksgiving” - the sacrament in which Christ is really present under the appearances of bread and wine. Other names for the Eucharist are: Holy Communion, the Lord’s Supper, the table of the Lord, the breaking of the bread, the unbloody sacrifice, our daily bread, the most blessed sacrament, the sacrifice of praise, and agape. But the Eucharist is also a sign of unity, a bond of charity, and a paschal banquet.