The Eucharist: Is our Exodus part of the Paschal mystery?


It seems to me that in the Eucharist we are celebrating both the Paschal sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross and the Exodus in which God fed his people with bread from heaven. I would appreciate any who can explain these connections to me further, both with Biblical texts and with Catholic teaching.

In mass, we celebrate the sacrifice of Jesus Christ in like fashion to the Passover (Pasch) sacrifice in Egypt, when the Israelis were to select lambs for slaughter in keeping with the instructions from God prior to their deliverance in Exodus 12. We hear Moses proclaiming the covenant with God in Exodus 24:8. The Israelites’ sustenance in the desert on manna is described in Exodus 16.

The Paschal sacrificial nature of Christ’s sacrifice is found in numerous places in scripture in lines the priest echoes every mass during the Eucharistic liturgy (1 Cor 11:23-27; Matt 26:26-26; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:14-20). These all clearly attest to the covenant in the shed blood of Christ, analogous to the Paschal sacrifice of lambs in Egypt.

However, while we often cite John 6:53’s “you shall have no life within you” during our hymns during the Liturgy of the Eucharist, we often don’t focus on the strong parallels between the manna on which the Israelites subsisted in the desert and Jesus being the bread of life. This emphasis on the continuity between the manna in Exodus 12 and the Body of Christ that we celebrate at mass is most pronounced in the bread of life discourse in John 6:31-35.

The notion that the bread of the Eucharist can be seen in parallel to the manna sent from heaven is further reinforced in the words of the Lord’s Prayer itself (Matt 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4. Our translation, “give us this day our daily bread” is not exactly what the Greek says. The word we say as “daily” has a connotation of sustenance, and the line suggests an appeal to Providence. However, the Greek word is epiousios (επιούσιος). “Epi-” means “across” or “beyond,” and “ousios” means “substance” or “essence.” So “daily bread” really would best be translated “supersubstantial bread” or “bread beyond essence.” The notion that we are petitioning God to give us this day this epiousios bread strongly parallels an echo of the Exodus in the Eucharist, where the literal physical survival of the Israelites relied on manna.

Can anyone help with a better exegesis on these verses? It’s fascinating to me that we see in Jesus both the sacrifice for our atonement and in the nourishment for our continued survival in our Exodus out of sin. Does this make sense? Thanks!


Yes, in fact, Paul actually calls Jesus "our Passover Lamb" (1 Cor 5:7-8). I think you are correct. Many scholars have shown that the manna in the wilderness is a type of the Eucharist that we are fed daily as we journey to the true promised land. We are released from slavery to satan & sin by passing through water and we eat the manna on our journey.

Check out this great video that goes into more depth on this by Dr. Brant Pitre. I would also recommend his book 'Jesus and the Jewish roots of the Eucharist.'


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