BY: Fr. Jude Chijioke




Readings: Gen 14:18 – 20; 1 Cor 11: 23 – 26; Lk 9: 11 – 17

“In those days Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine, and being a priest of God Most High, he blessed Abram…” (Gen 14).

“…the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me. In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying: This cup is the new covenant in my blood.” (1 Cor 11).

“Jesus said to the disciples: Have them sit down in groups of about fifty. They did so and made them all sit down. Then taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing over them, broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. They all ate and were satisfied. And when the leftover fragments were picked up, they filled twelve wicker baskets.” (Lk 9).

Dear people of God, through the three liturgical readings today we can compose a sequence that leads us from the Eucharistic signs to its reality. Let us walk beginning from an ancient sign, the one presented in the Genesis account concerning Melchizedek, king and priest of Salem, the future Jerusalem. The symbol of the bread and wine offered by the king to Abram is an expression of hospitality and welcome, it is a guarantee of safety. But if we pay close attention, there is a significant allusion to it, priestly hands are those that bring and offer bread and wine, and the gesture is accompanied by a blessing. It is in this way that this sign has acquired a new value in the Christian reinterpretation.
The mysterious king Melchizedek whose name means “King of Justice”, whose city is the “city of peace”, whose God is the Most High, whose offering is bread and wine, whose word is a blessing for all the peoples of the earth, has in Christ his new and perfect portrait. Fr David Maria Turoldo sang in his, “hymn of Melchizedek”: “No one has ever known about him, where he came from, who was his father. We only know this: that he was a priest of the Most High God, a figure of another, the awaited, the only king who frees and saves, a king who prays for man and loves him, a king who goes to die for others; the one who offers himself in bread and wine to the Most High God as a sign of thanksgiving: the bread and wine of freed men, who have always walked behind Abraham.”

The second sign is offered by Jesus himself in the miracle of the multiplication of loaves, as narrated by Luke. That act of Christ was not just a gesture of compassion towards the hungry crowd, at the sunset of a day full of events. Jesus in front of those five loaves and the two fish almost as if superimposed transfigured, suddenly, his face and gestures became those of the Last Supper: “raised his eyes to heaven, blessed the bread, broke them, and gave them …”.

In those loaves that freed the crowd from physical hunger, one can now glimpse the promise of another bread, the eucharistic one, which will free man from eternal hunger, bringing him to full and perfect communion with God. Following the path of Melchizedek and the desert loaves, we therefore reached the center of this solemnity, the Last Easter Supper, the reality that gives substance to the signs. And Paul who, writing to the Christians of Corinth, joins their eucharistic celebration to the decisive event of that evening when Christ on the unleavened bread and the cup of wine of the Jewish Passover ritual pronounced those surprising words: “This is my body … This chalice is the new covenant in my blood.” The reference that Jesus makes to the “new covenant” announced by Jeremiah (31: 31-34) is significant.

At Sinai the blood shed on the altar and on the people was a sign of a covenant between God and Israel, a covenant signed on the stone tablets. But the prophet Jeremiah had proclaimed a great hope, announcing the day in which the covenant between God and man would be complete and absolute, signed on the tablets of the flesh, of the heart: “I will place my law in their soul, I will write it on their heart. Then I will be their God and they, my people.” (31, 33). Now, Christ, in our time, with his flesh and blood unites himself with ours in a perfect embrace of love and communion. What a Love!

Fr. Jude Chijioke

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