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we come together as friends

Dr. James Loreto C. Piscos


Basic Symbolism of Eucharist
The eucharist is not about bread and wine. Nor it is primarily the presence of
Christ after the consecration. The basic symbolism of the eucharist is not things, it is
people. The symbols of the eucharist are people gathered around a common table
sharing bread and wine in memory of Christ, trying to do what they are doing in
memory of him.
Thus, the basic question that we should ask is not, what happens to the bread
and wine? but what happens to people who share bread and wine at Christs table?
The bread and wine used at mass does have symbolic values. They were reminders of
how God had for years fed his people in the dessert with manna, and signs of the
messiahnic banquet. In Jesus time they were signs of a festive meal, and were
prescribed for Passover celebrations. Even here, their importance is not absolute.
That is why, the focus is not on bread as bread or wine as wine, as much as on the
fact that they represented the elements of a festive meal in the time of Jesus.

Biblical Foundations
Eucharist is the sacrament that is most often mentioned in the Scriptures. In
the Old Testament, people gather together to celebrate the saving acts of Yahweh. This
was expressed in many rituals, but the major one was the Passover. Passover is
celebrated as a way of remembering and thanking God for the freedom they have won.
This was called the Passover because on the evening before the last plague, the angel
of death will come, and kill the first born son. To save them from this catastrophe, the
Israelites offered a lamb. The blood of the sacrificial lamb will be put at the doors of
their houses that once the angel of death will see that it will pass over the house, and
go to the house where there is no blood at its door. Weeping is seen in every Egyptian
house while for the Israelites, it is a symbol of victory. Due to this occasion, the
Pharaoh let them go for his son died, and that made him realized the power of the God
of the Israelites.
In the New Testament, Jesus became the sacrificial lamb. He made the Last
Supper a day before the Passover celebration. He took, blest, gave thanks and shared
the bread to his disciples. Later on, such gesture will be remembered. Jesus breaking
of the bread became the symbol of their identity in their being one with Christ.
Eucharist therefore is a thanksgiving and a remembering. In the breaking of the bread

they will tell and retell the story of the good news, remember what Jesus did and said,
and continue nurturing their relationship as a community in common faith in Jesus.
There are four accounts in the NT that speak about the institution narratives of the
sacrament. We have 1 Corinthians 11: 17-34, Mark 14:12-25, Matthew 26:17-29 and
Luke 22:14-38.
What is common to these stories. Well there are four words that bind them
together: the taking of the bread, the blessing, the thanksgiving and the sharing or the
giving.
Eucharist in the New Testament is about people who share the love-relationship
by means of a meal which in Greek call an agape. In sharing the food, they nurtured
their relationship that becomes a deeper kind of being together which we call koinonia
(fellowship). Through the agape and koinonia, they were able to see how life is linked to
faith, and how faith deepened their everyday experiences as a Christian.

Vatican II Theology of the Eucharist


To say that the eucharist is a sacrament, a memorial of Christ, means that as
his body the church gathers to celebrate in literal reality a simple meal. But in
symbolic reality, this is not simple meal. It is a sacred ritual meal in which the
ordinary human actions of taking, blessing, eating and drinking take on symbolic
meanings. It is a dynamic and efficacious memorial in which the church remembers,
proclaims and realizes and celebrated all that God has done for us in Christ.
In eucharistic memorial, God does for us now what he did then: he incarnates
his Christ again, this time in the symbol of the common meal. He saves his people
through the death and resurrection of his Son. He forgives our sins and reconciles us
to himself. He pours out his Spirit upon us. He calls us once to be his church, the
body of Christ, and to be faithful to our covenant with him. He pledges to us again
that we will be his people and he will be our God.
One of the most significant contributions of Vatican II with regards to
Eucharist is its view on the sacrament as the central sacrament of the church. This is
so because as a summit and apex of Christian worship, Eucharist gathers people
together, made them aware of their identity as a follower of Christ, and share common
stories that define their dignity as a Christian. The Lords party is an affirmation of
each others presence. Thus, the liturgy builds community, a community of disciples in
constant journey with the Spirit.

Theology of the Ritual


There are two parts of the mass, the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the
Eucharist. The Liturgy of the Word is composed of the entrance procession, the kyrie
(or penitential rite), the first reading, responsorial psalm, the second reading (during
Sundays), the reading of the gospel, the homily, creed and petitions. The church is
about the telling and re-telling of story and remembering them, which strengthens our
journey to the beyond. The stories of the people ahead of us remind us that dignity
and freedom should be preserved. This is the mark of our identity. Then it gives us a
sense of destiny for we know that like our forefathers, we are always guided by the
Spirit.
Liturgy of the Eucharist is composed mainly of the presentation of the gifts, the
offertory, the consecration and the communion. Before the presentation of the gifts
was termed as offertory. But now, it is not anymore referred to since it will take place
when the priest in the name of all the people, holds up the consecrated bread and
wine, and offers them to God as he proclaims that it is only in Christ, and with Christ
and through Christ that all glory is given to God the Father. This is, in fact the high
point of the eucharistic action, and it meant to be followed by the Great Amenso
called because in the early church people sang it out or shouted it with such force
that according to St. Jerome, the church shook with the reverberation.
In the consecration there occurred the anamnesis. This is part of the
eucharistic prayer recalling the sacrifice of Christ and ending with the words, Do this
in memory of Me. On the other hand, transubstantiation is the term used by the
church to mean the changing of the bread and the wine into the body and the blood of
Christ.
The communion is the height of the celebration. It is the eating part of the
celebration. Can you imagine attending the party without eating and drinking? It was
a popular belief that if you did not confess you cannot partake the body of Christ. In
the Vatican II theology, eucharist is a healing experience. Thus, one could still take the
body of Christ as long as there is sincerity and repentance, and wish to make the
sacrament of reconciliation as soon as possible.

Pastoral Reflections

Eucharist is taking part in the Lords meal. As we see the deeper meaning of a
meal, we find that it is not just a sharing of food but it is a sharing of life. It is
pagbibigay ng halaga at pagmamahal regardless of what status you are in society.
Human relationships are generated in the salu-salo, be it in fiesta, birthday party or
just a simple meal. The table becomes an altar where people meet to share what they
are and what they have. Real sarap is experienced if human beings are in
communion and show concern for one another.
But how much do we learn from the theology of eucharist as about people?
Today most of our parishes have not really developed a personal relationships
among the majority of its members. Most Christians have the dichotomistic
tendencies- separating daily life from the life of the church. The high tech text age has
put a lot on individualism. The community is always a casualty.
We have today the fast food phenomenon. We are always in the hurry. In this
setting, can meal still generate a relationship?
The problem aggravates as we continue to become a grabbing society. We grab
and grab even if we do not need. In effect, we cause others to suffer.
But this is not a hopeless case. There are people who made themselves gifts to
others. They care, share and reach out to help. They are agents to bring society where
everyone will recognize their own giftedness as a persons. Be it an NGO, a church
worker, an ordinary person who shares his/her talents to work for the upliftment of
the poor. In this way, we make the Lords supper truly a symbol of life.
Each time we receive the body of Christ, we recall its real essence: that is
Christs self-giving in order that we too will break personal barriers and enter into the

real Body of Christ- the community. In this way, we are called to celebrate and promote
the value of life.

Suggested Readings

Bernier, Paul. Bread, Broken and Shared. Notre Dame: Ave maria Press,
1981.
_____________ .Eucharist: Celebrating the Rhythms of Life. Notre
Dame: Ave Maria Press, 1993.
Hellwig, Monica. Eucharist and the Hunger of the World. New York:
Paulist, 1976.
Legrand, H.M. The Presidency of the Eucharist According to Ancient
Tradition. Worship 52, 5 (September) 1979, 413-438.
Oconnor, Murphy. Becoming Human Together. Wilmington: Michael
Glazier, 1981.

we come together as friends


Dr. James Loreto C. Piscos
Basic Symbolism of Eucharist
The eucharist is not about bread and wine. Nor it is primarily the presence of
Christ after the consecration. The basic symbolism of the eucharist is not things, it is
people. The symbols of the eucharist are people gathered around a common table
sharing bread and wine in memory of Christ, trying to do what they are doing in
memory of him.
Thus, the basic question that we should ask is not, what happens to the bread
and wine? but what happens to people who share bread and wine at Christs table?
The bread and wine used at mass does have symbolic values. They were reminders of
how God had for years fed his people in the dessert with manna, and signs of the
messiahnic banquet. In Jesus time they were signs of a festive meal, and were
prescribed for Passover celebrations. Even here, their importance is not absolute.
That is why, the focus is not on bread as bread or wine as wine, as much as on the
fact that they represented the elements of a festive meal in the time of Jesus.

Biblical Foundations
Eucharist is the sacrament that is most often mentioned in the Scriptures. In
the Old Testament, people gather together to celebrate the saving acts of Yahweh. This
was expressed in many rituals, but the major one was the Passover. Passover is
celebrated as a way of remembering and thanking God for the freedom they have won.
This was called the Passover because on the evening before the last plague, the angel
of death will come, and kill the first born son. To save them from this catastrophe, the
Israelites offered a lamb. The blood of the sacrificial lamb will be put at the doors of
their houses that once the angel of death will see that it will pass over the house, and
go to the house where there is no blood at its door. Weeping is seen in every Egyptian
house while for the Israelites, it is a symbol of victory. Due to this occasion, the
Pharaoh let them go for his son died, and that made him realized the power of the God
of the Israelites.
In the New Testament, Jesus became the sacrificial lamb. He made the Last
Supper a day before the Passover celebration. He took, blest, gave thanks and shared
the bread to his disciples. Later on, such gesture will be remembered. Jesus breaking
of the bread became the symbol of their identity in their being one with Christ.
Eucharist therefore is a thanksgiving and a remembering. In the breaking of the bread
they will tell and retell the story of the good news, remember what Jesus did and said,
and continue nurturing their relationship as a community in common faith in Jesus.
There are four accounts in the NT that speak about the institution narratives of the
sacrament. We have 1 Corinthians 11: 17-34, Mark 14:12-25, Matthew 26:17-29 and
Luke 22:14-38.
What is common to these stories. Well there are four words that bind them
together: the taking of the bread, the blessing, the thanksgiving and the sharing or the
giving.
Eucharist in the New Testament is about people who share the love-relationship
by means of a meal which in Greek call an agape. In sharing the food, they nurtured
their relationship that becomes a deeper kind of being together which we call koinonia
(fellowship). Through the agape and koinonia, they were able to see how life is linked to
faith, and how faith deepened their everyday experiences as a Christian.

Vatican II Theology of the Eucharist


To say that the eucharist is a sacrament, a memorial of Christ, means that as
his body the church gathers to celebrate in literal reality a simple meal. But in

symbolic reality, this is not simple meal. It is a sacred ritual meal in which the
ordinary human actions of taking, blessing, eating and drinking take on symbolic
meanings. It is a dynamic and efficacious memorial in which the church remembers,
proclaims and realizes and celebrated all that God has done for us in Christ.
In eucharistic memorial, God does for us now what he did then: he incarnates
his Christ again, this time in the symbol of the common meal. He saves his people
through the death and resurrection of his Son. He forgives our sins and reconciles us
to himself. He pours out his Spirit upon us. He calls us once to be his church, the
body of Christ, and to be faithful to our covenant with him. He pledges to us again
that we will be his people and he will be our God.
One of the most significant contributions of Vatican II with regards to
Eucharist is its view on the sacrament as the central sacrament of the church. This is
so because as a summit and apex of Christian worship, Eucharist gathers people
together, made them aware of their identity as a follower of Christ, and share common
stories that define their dignity as a Christian. The Lords party is an affirmation of
each others presence. Thus, the liturgy builds community, a community of disciples in
constant journey with the Spirit.

Theology of the Ritual


There are two parts of the mass, the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the
Eucharist. The Liturgy of the Word is composed of the entrance procession, the kyrie
(or penitential rite), the first reading, responsorial psalm, the second reading (during
Sundays), the reading of the gospel, the homily, creed and petitions. The church is
about the telling and re-telling of story and remembering them, which strengthens our
journey to the beyond. The stories of the people ahead of us remind us that dignity
and freedom should be preserved. This is the mark of our identity. Then it gives us a
sense of destiny for we know that like our forefathers, we are always guided by the
Spirit.
Liturgy of the Eucharist is composed mainly of the presentation of the gifts, the
offertory, the consecration and the communion. Before the presentation of the gifts
was termed as offertory. But now, it is not anymore referred to since it will take place
when the priest in the name of all the people, holds up the consecrated bread and
wine, and offers them to God as he proclaims that it is only in Christ, and with Christ

and through Christ that all glory is given to God the Father. This is, in fact the high
point of the eucharistic action, and it meant to be followed by the Great Amenso
called because in the early church people sang it out or shouted it with such force
that according to St. Jerome, the church shook with the reverberation.
In the consecration there occurred the anamnesis. This is part of the
eucharistic prayer recalling the sacrifice of Christ and ending with the words, Do this
in memory of Me. On the other hand, transubstantiation is the term used by the
church to mean the changing of the bread and the wine into the body and the blood of
Christ.
The communion is the height of the celebration. It is the eating part of the
celebration. Can you imagine attending the party without eating and drinking? It was
a popular belief that if you did not confess you cannot partake the body of Christ. In
the Vatican II theology, eucharist is a healing experience. Thus, one could still take the
body of Christ as long as there is sincerity and repentance, and wish to make the
sacrament of reconciliation as soon as possible.

Pastoral Reflections

Eucharist is taking part in the Lords meal. As we see the deeper meaning of a
meal, we find that it is not just a sharing of food but it is a sharing of life. It is
pagbibigay ng halaga at pagmamahal regardless of what status you are in society.
Human relationships are generated in the salu-salo, be it in fiesta, birthday party or
just a simple meal. The table becomes an altar where people meet to share what they
are and what they have. Real sarap is experienced if human beings are in
communion and show concern for one another.
But how much do we learn from the theology of eucharist as about people?

Today most of our parishes have not really developed a personal relationships
among the majority of its members. Most Christians have the dichotomistic
tendencies- separating daily life from the life of the church. The high tech text age has
put a lot on individualism. The community is always a casualty.
We have today the fast food phenomenon. We are always in the hurry. In this
setting, can meal still generate a relationship?
The problem aggravates as we continue to become a grabbing society. We grab
and grab even if we do not need. In effect, we cause others to suffer.
But this is not a hopeless case. There are people who made themselves gifts to
others. They care, share and reach out to help. They are agents to bring society where
everyone will recognize their own giftedness as a persons. Be it an NGO, a church
worker, an ordinary person who shares his/her talents to work for the upliftment of
the poor. In this way, we make the Lords supper truly a symbol of life.
Each time we receive the body of Christ, we recall its real essence: that is
Christs self-giving in order that we too will break personal barriers and enter into the
real Body of Christ- the community. In this way, we are called to celebrate and promote
the value of life.

Suggested Readings

Bernier, Paul. Bread, Broken and Shared. Notre Dame: Ave maria Press,
1981.
_____________ .Eucharist: Celebrating the Rhythms of Life. Notre
Dame: Ave Maria Press, 1993.
Hellwig, Monica. Eucharist and the Hunger of the World. New York:
Paulist, 1976.

Legrand, H.M. The Presidency of the Eucharist According to Ancient


Tradition. Worship 52, 5 (September) 1979, 413-438.
Oconnor, Murphy. Becoming Human Together. Wilmington: Michael
Glazier, 1981.