Bread is the one common food that transcends boundaries. Most cultures have their bread. It is the world’s life-giving food.
Jesus calls Himself “the Living Bread come down from heaven,” and says in Luke 4:4 “One does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.”
The “bread” in our Sacrifice of the Mass is “the Bread of Angels.” The word Eucharist means “to give thanksgiving.” The sacrament of the Eucharist is the sacrifice of Calvary, the same sacrifice that Jesus offered on Mount Calvary. It is not another sacrifice. It is the original sacrifice. The Church finds its center and most intense expression in the celebration of this sacrament. It is the Sacraments of sacraments. It is not just a sign. It is the true presence of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. He instituted the Eucharist as the memorial of His death and resurrection. He fulfilled the Passover. It is not just a recollection, we are present at Calvary. The Paschal mystery is not repeated. It is present now. The Last Supper was the first Mass. The Eucharist is also a sacrifice. “This is My Body which is given for you.” He gives us the very body which was sacrificed on Calvary. The priest says Mass “in personae Christi.”
Just as bread can give us life-giving strength, the Eucharist can give us the spiritual life. Jesus is still alive and comes to us in the humble form of bread. This is the sacrifice of the New Covenant. This replaces the bullock, lamb or a pigeon in the Old Covenant. In the New Convenant, the Lamb offers up Himself.
In answer to Mary’s question on how the message of the Annunciation could happen since she had no relations with man, the Angel Gabriel told Mary that the power of the Most High would overshadow her. At the moment of the young virgin’s yes, the angel’s moment passes. He must step back because the young woman before him becomes the Mother of God forever.
I try to imagine the power of the Most High at this sacred moment where we are gifted with God becoming man. Our Jesus Christ comes to us as a vulnerable baby. He will show us the Father and, in complete obedience, show us how to live. What a humble, yet glorious beginning to the most important event in human history!
How blessed are we Catholics to be present as that same Power available for Our Mother Mary is available for us at the Consecration of the Mass when the priest calls on the Holy Spirit to change the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. The bells ring and heads bow at the same dynamic moment when Heaven comes to Earth. We that realize the presence of the Power of the Most High are quieted inwardly and outwardly at the sacredness of the moment.
For this reason alone, I am a happy Catholic. There are many, many other reasons, but knowing and appreciating the power of the Most High at the Sacrifice of the Mass is reason indeed. I feel sorry for some of my friends who left the Church because they are bored at Mass and don’t get anything out of it. They prefer the warm and fuzzy feeling of a warm and fuzzy Jesus presented with clap-your-hands music and a once-saved-always-saved religion to the sacred moment when we can adore our God and we can be present in His company.