Bible Study: The Bible and the Mass (Lesson 1, Part 4)
This is Part 4 to the Bible study we are doing from St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology. The other parts can be found here:
- Part 1 – How is the Mass Based on the Bible?
- Part 2 – Why is the Mass Biblical Worship?
- Part 3 – St. Paul Corrects the Corinthians on How to Do the Mass
Today, we continue with Lesson 1: A Biblical Introduction to the Mass. This lesson shows how all the synoptic Gospels define what the New Covenant (Testament) really was (and still is). The New Covenant is the Mass (specifically the Eucharist), not a collection of sacred documents canonized 300 years after the death of Christ.
The tradition Paul describes is very similar to the tradition handed on in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke (see Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:15-20).
Each recalls the Eucharist’s beginnings in close, though not identical, details.
Each agrees it was during Passover – the feast God instituted on the eve of Israel’s flight from Egypt (see Exodus 12:1-28). They agree, too, that it was the night before He died, during His final meal with His Apostles.
During the meal, Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to the disciples saying, “This is My body.” He also took a cup of wine; after giving thanks to God, He gave it to His disciples saying, “This is My blood . . . of the [new] covenant.”
Matthew and Mark say Jesus spoke of the “blood of the covenant.” Moses used those words when he ratified Israel’s covenant with God, sprinkling the people with animal blood (see Exodus 24:4-8).
Luke, like Paul, says Jesus spoke of “the new covenant” (see Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 11:25).
This probably refers to Jeremiah’s prophecy that God would make a “new covenant” with Israel. Unlike the covenant He made when He led them out of Egypt, by this new covenant He would “write” His law upon their hearts, not in tablets of stone (see Jeremiah 31:31-33; 2 Corinthians 3:3).
Jesus, in all three of these Gospel accounts, stresses a sacrificial meaning for His death. He says His blood is “poured out for many.” In Matthew, He offers himself “for the forgiveness of sins.”
All three add a note of urgent expectation – Jesus vows that He won’t drink “from the fruit of the vine” until “the Kingdom of God” comes.
Are you convinced? Do you see how the Scriptures themselves point to the Eucharist as the New Covenant? This makes sense since the printing press wouldn’t be invented until 1,500 years later. The Mass was the only way illiterate Christians (the majority of people of the time) could encounter Jesus. Why would God condemn billions of Christians who did not know how to read and/or were not wealthy enough to own their own copy of the Bible? From this perspective, to say “Bible alone” would be elitist, wouldn’t it? In this lesson, I’m learning that Jesus Himself spoke of the Lord’s Supper in sacrificial terms. The New Covenant is Jesus Himself, whose Body and Blood can only be found during a Catholic Mass.