[quote=UKcatholicGuy]We believe Christ instituted the Eucharist at the Last Supper on the night before He died. But if He had yet to die and complete the sacrifice, how did He hold His own Body and Blood in His sacred hands?
A baptist friend asked me this, and I didn’t really have an answer. Anyone know?
<Disclaimer: I believe the following to be in accordance with Church Teaching, however any deviation from Chruch Teaching is through my own error and misunderstanding and should be rejected>
I think that some of the difficulty with this stems from some imprecision in our thinking about the Last Supper/Eucharist.
Christ is present (really and substantially) in the Eucharistic species in His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. He is present there sacramentally, by virtue of the power of the sacrament.
At the Last Supper, the fact that Christ had not yet died is no bar to His ability to offer Himself sacramentally in an unbloody way. This, is in fact, what happens at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
The difference is that at the Last Supper Christ offered Himself sacramentally in anticipation of His Sacrifice at Calvary, while at Mass He (and the priest and we) offers Himself sacramentally in a re-presentation of Calvary.
But, as you rightly noted, Christ had not yet died. That is not an obstacle, as we have seen, since the Eucharist is an unbloody sacrifice. However, much more significant is that at the time of the Last Supper, Christ had not yet risen. This is significant because the Eucharist is the whole Christ as mentioned above *BODY, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. *When we receive the Eucharist we receive Christ as He is now – and He has a post-ressurection and glorified body.
But the apostles recieved Him as He was then, and at that moment, before Calvary and the Resurrection ,He had a non-glorified mortal body. (Which is obvious, because without a mortal body He would not have been able to suffer death.)
The fact that Christ gave Himself to His apostles at the Last Supper before He had a glorified body is highly significant. This shows us that Christ is present in the Eucharist by power of the sacrament, and not by power of His glorifed body. To be sure He is present WITH His glorified body now, but that is not the reason why He can be present.
Therefore since Christt is really present in the Eucharist in a *sacramental *way, there is no problem with the Last Supper being before Calvary or the Mass being post-Calvary. Both sacramentally sacrifice, in an unbloody manner, the “one and for all” sacrifice at Calvary.
Thoughts? Does that help at all?
I’d like to discuss this further if you would like to!