23 For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” –1 Corinthians 11:23-25
New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition
“The Institution of the Lord’s Supper”
On the night of the Last Supper, Jesus and his closest friends and community were gathered for a ritual Jewish observance of Passover.
Passover is an observance of the way that God led the Israelites out from slavery in Egypt in a covenant of protection that was sealed with the blood of a slaughtered spring lamb.
On the night of the Last Supper, the embodied God reveals that He will free the people from the tyranny of sin once again, but this time God himself will be the sacrifice of flesh and blood for all people.
Holy Eucharist is about as ‘meta’ as it comes. It is endlessly self-referential; the followers of Christ re-enact a revelation of sacrifice and salvation, that is in and of itself a re-enactment of a revelation of sacrifice and salvation, that is a product of sacrifice and salvation, and so on back to the source. Its origin is in an ancient Hebrew ritual of protection that predates Exodus, then as path to liberation from slavery in Egypt, and ultimately to a resurrection from literal death and salvation for all people. The sacrifice that is motherhood is not absent from this narrative either, as St. Augustine reminds us, “Jesus took His flesh from the flesh of Mary.”
Mary is the literal Tabernacle of God, there is no redemption story in Christ without the faith and acceptance Mary has of God’s Will. Moreover, charis is the Greek word for grace and it has its origins in fertility and beauty goddess. The chalice is often a feminine symbol and when filled with a red wine, well, its reasonable to draw some connections especially when one considers the way we pray to the Mother, “Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with thee.” Mary is the Eucharist just as much as her son, a fact which is very controversial within Christianity. For example, Catholics are accused of idolatry for their reverence to Mary but remain adamant that transubstantiation of the Eucharist can only occur if the individual performing the ritual has a penis because Jesus had a penis and apparently needed a wand to perform the trick. However, there are protestant sects that would disavow the worship of Mary but see no conflict in allowing a woman to preside over the Eucharist. Eucharistic theology has been in conflict since the ritual was formalized.
Before delving too deeply into Eucharistic theology, let’s go back in history.