The celebration of the Eucharist:
A rite of sacrifice and atonement or the "Celebration of the New Covenant"?
The stunting of the Eucharist consists in the fact that a supplementary phrase, later attached by the evangelist Matthew to the words of Jesus at the Last Supper ("blood... shed for the forgiveness of sins"), shapes the entire Eucharist and the understanding of the Lord's salvation.
The human being is thereby primarily seen by his sinfulness and guiltiness and his need for salvation is almost exclusively related to it.
But the original center of Jesus' Last Supper, namely the celebration of the “New Covenant”, announced by the prophet Jeremiah (Jer 31:33f), is scarcely to be found with its concrete contents in the Eucharistic celebration.
The "New Covenant" can be seen in the message and in the life of Jesus; it is offered to us in his death and resurrection, and finds its ritual fulfillment in the celebration of the sacrament.
Those in charge of the Church should realize the contents of the “New Covenant”, which Jesus instituted with the apostles at the Last Supper, in the texts and rites of the Eucharist and in catechesis and pastoral work.
The contents of the "New Covenant" were announced by the prophet Jeremiah, who lived in Israel from about 627 to 587 BC (Jer 31:33-34):
33. But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD. I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
34. No longer will they have need to teach their friends and kinsmen how to know the LORD. All, from least to greatest, shall know me, says the LORD, for I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more.
Examples from the message and the life of Jesus, in which we can see the contents of the "New Covenant" realized:
- “Why do you not know how to interpret the present time? Why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?” (Lk 12:56-57)
- “Knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been granted to you.” (Mt 13:11)
- “As for you, do not be called 'Rabbi' … teacher … father … 'Master' …” (Mt 23:8-10)
- Jesus ' parable narratives are invitations to perceive and understand life independently.
- The words "obedience" and "obey" are never used by Jesus for human beings.
If we unfold the contents of the "New Covenant" in the Holy Mass, the Eucharist will be the celebration of the “New Covenant”.
This would mean that we should focus on the following subjects in the Eucharist:
- The conscience of man and the formation of his conscience,
- the dignity of man and a dignified life,
- the ability of the knowledge of God, which is also to be seen as a task, and the ways of the knowledge of God,
- How we learn to perceive the working of the Spirit of God within ourselves,
- The understanding and practice of authority as seen in Jesus,
- Overcoming all paternalism, incapacitation, disempowerment and oppression,
It should be remembered that the forgiveness of sins by God in the promise of the "New Covenant" at Jeremiah works without blood and atonement sacrifices.
It should also be remembered to understand the crucifixion of Jesus as a consequence of his life, in which he realized the "New Covenant" through his behavior and message.
So it would be clear that his life, his death on the cross, his resurrection and the rite of sacramental celebration are related to the contents of the "New Covenant".
Manfred Hanglberger (www.hanglberger-manfred.de)