“It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, for he passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt, when he struck down the Egyptians but spared our houses”
– Exodus 12:27
The Passover feast celebrated by the 1st Century Jews was eaten in remembrance of the Exodus event, when God delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. By the blood, and sacrifice of the paschal lamb, the wrath of God passed over their houses, sparing their lives.
“Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” – John 1:29
However unlike the animal sacrifices of the Passover Feast, that would have to be sacrificed annually by the high priest, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ was perfect, and permanent. He died to sin once and for all, and by rising from the grave, defeated death. By the blood and sacrifice of Jesus, the Lamb of God, we too receive forgiveness for our sins, and receive eternal life.
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” John 6:51
When Christ instituted the Eucharist at the Last Supper, he truly transformed the substances of bread and wine into His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity. The truth of this deeper spiritual reality means that the Eucharist we consume is more than just the Body of Christ, sacrificed in the Crucifixion; it was also the Body of Christ glorified in the Resurrection. In the Catholic Church today, we continue to celebrate this same Sacrament that contains the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Mass.
“Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup” – 1 Corinthians 11:28
Partaking in the Eucharist is also a sign of communion and unity with the Catholic Church, as we become one Body of Christ when we share in the One Bread. As such, only baptised Catholics in a state of grace are called to receive the Eucharist. Seeking the sacrament of reconciliation (or confession) before mass allows us to cleanse our hearts from every attachment to sin, and to truly receive the Eucharist, and also be received into the Body of Christ.