Deepening Formation

Divine Breadcrumbs Lead to the Eucharist

As Christians, we profess that the greatest event in the history of the world, the one event that changed eternity, was the Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ! While this is a wonderful reality for us, the problem that we face as modern-day believers is that the greatest event ever happened two thousand years ago in a small country called Israel.

What makes this so difficult to share in a modern setting is that we live within a culture that doesn’t always value the past as much as they value the present and, to a smaller extent, the future. The “now” is what is important to people, not what happened in an upper room and on a hill on the edge of a town back in 33 AD.

If you were a casual observer in the time of Jesus, his Death, Burial, and Resurrection may have caught you off guard, and you would have said, “I sure didn’t see that coming!” The truth is, most didn’t see it coming, but once they immersed themselves into the Scriptures, they would have soon discovered that there were divine breadcrumbs laid down in the narrative that, if followed, would have led them to the Upper Room and the Cross in the New Covenant!

The empty tomb of Christ's Resurrection

The Christocentric Scriptures

In many ways, we could say that all the stories in the Old Testament were pointing to one person, the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, the Church has taught us that all of the Scriptures, both the Old and New Testaments, are Christocentric, meaning that they all find their ultimate meaning and fulfillment in Jesus, particularly in his Paschal Mystery.

From Creation to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; from the time when the children of Israel were enslaved in Egypt for four hundred years and delivered from bondage in the Passover to the great Exile; and from King David all the way to the Maccabean Revolt, the Scriptures pointed to the most important moments when God would one day become one of us. He would offer his life for the sins of the world, and then, through the miracle of a sacrament, perpetuate the New Covenant meal with us today in the Eucharist.

Scripture Helps Us Understand the Eucharist

Most of us who believe in and have experienced the sustaining power of the Eucharist want more than anything for our loved ones, friends, and colleagues to experience the love of God the way we have. If the Eucharist is what the Church has always confessed—the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus, the same Jesus who offered himself to the world two thousand years ago—then it is incumbent upon us to make sure that every highway, every path, every bit of divine revelation is clear and carefully marked so that all, especially the broken, the bruised, and the marginalized, can make a trek to the most valuable person on earth: Jesus!

Closeup of a hand holding a Bible open to the first chapter of the Gospel of John

While the reception of the Eucharist will always entail faith, a clearer understanding of why the Church believes in the “Real Presence” of Jesus in the Eucharist can be gained by combing through the Old Testament narrative. A trail of divine breadcrumbs in the Old Testament leads the reader to Jesus, the Bread of Life, in the New Testament. And in the New Testament, a clear body of teaching affirms and explains the benefits of the Eucharist!

Scripture Helps Us Explain the Faith

Dedicating yourself to studying Sacred Scripture will better ensure that you can share this gift of life with others. Indeed, if we are going to teach about something that happened two thousand years ago, and that something is the most important event ever, then we have to be able to explain it to our contemporaries. It’s a matter of justice; they have a right to hear the good news, and they have a right to hear from us how the Eucharist is available in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

How many times have we, when asked about the Eucharist, had nothing of any substance to say regarding why we believe what we believe? Equipping our hearts with the Word of God and gaining a biblical understanding of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is crucial if the People of God are going to provide a reason for the hope that the Eucharist has given us.

Classical painting of the Last Supper

As we are on the eve of one of the greatest gatherings in Church history, the National Eucharistic Congress, July 17–21, 2024, now is the time to make the changes we have promised ourselves regarding our faith. How many times have we said, “This year, I’m going to study Scripture,” or “This year, I’m going to take the time to understand the Mass”? As Rabbi Hillel once said, “If not me, who, and if not now, when?”

With the many changes and troubles we witness and experience in our world today, now is the time to share with those in our sphere of influence the one thing that will not change—the one thing that will be the same yesterday, today, and forever—and that is Jesus Christ, who is truly present to us in the Eucharist!

Reflection Question

How has a story from the Old Testament helped you better understand the doctrine (what the Church teaches) of the Eucharist?

Action Point

Choose one of the books from the Old Testament and commit to studying that book of the Bible. Find a good Catholic Bible Study guide to help you, such as Jeff Cavin’s Great Adventure Bible Study.

Prayer: Psalm 119:105–112

Your word is a lamp for my feet,

a light for my path.

I make a solemn vow

to observe your righteous judgments.

I am very much afflicted, LORD;

give me life in accord with your word.

Accept my freely offered praise;

LORD, teach me your judgments.

My life is always at risk,

but I do not forget your law.

The wicked have set snares for me,

but from your precepts I do not stray.

Your testimonies are my heritage forever;

they are the joy of my heart.

My heart is set on fulfilling your statutes;

they are my reward forever.