The Passover with the Disciples

17 On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?” 18 He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’” 19 So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal.

20 When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve; 21 and while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.” 22 And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another, “Surely not I, Lord?” 23 He answered, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.” 25 Judas, who betrayed him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” He replied, “You have said so.” 26 While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

30 When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

The world in front of the text has two dimensions: the response of the reader who encounters the text, and the Church’s history of interpretations and use of the text.

Questions for the teacher

Please reflect on these questions before reading this section and then use the material below to enrich your responsiveness to the text.

How do you respond to the text?
What does the text tell us about the world that God desires? What might the Holy Spirit be asking you and asking us to do?
In what ways do you hope your students will respond to the text? What do you want them to know, believe and do?

Meaning for today/challenges

The Last Supper is the base model and motivation for how Catholics, and indeed many Christians, remember what Jesus did for us.  As “we eat the bread” participants are called to remember how Jesus suffered for their salvation. As “we drink the cup”, one should remember that his blood was poured out for all humanity and the forgiveness of sins.  Just as the Eucharistic prayer says:

“Take this, all of you, and eat of it, for this is my body,
which will be given up for you…
take this, all of you, and drink from it, for this is the chalice
of my blood, the blood of the new and eternal covenant,
which will be poured out for you and for many for the
forgiveness of sins.  Do this in memory of me.”

As educators you need to consider the word “take” and what this means.   The Last supper is invitational.  As we lead others in their faith journey and we lead our students, how do we invite them?

“We gather for Mass, celebrate Mass and are then dismissed with a mission: to go out and be like Jesus in the world; living life with, and for, each other so that we become one community one body, one spirit in Christ. When we go out from Mass, Jesus is with us. ‘… I am with you always, to the end of the age.’ (Mt 28:20) We are nourished and strengthened by sharing the Eucharistic meal with those gathered. Jesus’ real presence during the Eucharist helps us to go and be like Jesus in the world. This can be difficult particularly if others at work and play do not think or act the same way…

To be hopeful is a way to live a Eucharistic life. To bring hope to people who are suffering and in need is a special gift that Jesus calls us to give. We are called to develop different ways of being hopeful for ourselves and for others. In doing this, we are sharing the real presence of Jesus with those we meet and help.”

Together At One Altar

Church interpretation & usage

At the Last Supper, Matthew describes some of the Eucharistic actions that contribute to the contemporary make up the pattern and elements of liturgy (many others have been added over time). 

In participating in the Eucharistic meal, Christians participate in a memorial and a sacrificial meal.   In celebrating and receiving the Eucharist, they join in the new Paschal meal and partake in Jesus’ dying and rising. In this action, Jesus established a new covenant, a new relationship with all humanity.  

This is what the Bishops of Vatican II had to say about the Eucharist in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (1963, #47).

“The Eucharist is a rich and multi-faceted reality.  It is rightly called a mystery, not because it cannot be understood but because its meaning can never be exhausted. There is always more to the Eucharist than we can fathom.  It holds together heaven and earth, time and eternity, humanity and divinity, life and death, past and future, failure and forgiveness. It draws believers into communion with one another and with the God who is Father, Son and Spirit.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states Eucharist is both “source and summit” (CCC 1324). 

“The Liturgy is the summit to which the activity of the Church is directed; it is also the source from which all its power flows”

(SC 10 – Sacrosanctum Concilium – Latin name for ‘Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy’).

This is broadly understood to mean that one’s relationship with God has Eucharist as its source, and that in the celebration of Eucharist – there is the high point; the mountain top experience – the summit.

The Catholic Church is a Eucharistic community.  The concept of community is a common one but having the focal point as Eucharist, differentiates this community just as others are marked by their common purpose or belief.  A Eucharistic community comes together to celebrate, share, pray and ‘do this in memory of me’.  To be a part of a Eucharistic community is a challenging concept.  It means that we are committed to living a Eucharistic life – a life in the example of Christ. 

The communal aspect of the Eucharist is far more than a group of people sharing a meal, it is the coming together of those who share the belief in the Kingdom of God. When people go to Mass they are remembering Jesus’ Life, Death and Resurrection and making a communal commitment to go and share God’s love in the world.”

Together At One Altar

For the classroom

Use the reflections section on this page of Together at One Altar for Early years learners: