Recently I’ve been considering what it means that we are not only beings that think, but desire. It seemed appropriate during this season of Lent to meditate on what it means to hunger, in the deepest sense of the word. And now, on Maundy Thursday, I think it is only appropriate for us to meditate on Christ’s final meal with his disciples–the Eucharist, and what it reveals about the point of all our hunger.
Alexander Schmemann notes, “In the biblical story of creation man is presented first of all, as a hungry being…and this image of the banquet remains throughout the whole Bible, the central image of life.”
O taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb.
“In the Bible the food that man eats, the world of which he must partake in order to live, is given to him by God and is given as communion with God…it is not accidental, therefore, that the biblical story of the Fall is centered again on food. It is the image of the world loved for itself, and eating it is the image of life understood as an end in itself. [Because of the Fall] food itself is dead, it is a life that has died and it must be kept in refrigerators like a corpse.”
Man shall not live by bread alone.
But “in Christ, the new Adam, the perfect man, this eucharistic life was restored to man. For He Himself was the perfect Eucharist; He offered Himself in total obedience, love , and thanksgiving to God….It is the movement that Adam failed to perform, and that in Christ has become the very life of man: a movement of adoration and praise in which all joy and suffering, all beauty and all frustration, all hunger and all satisfaction are referred to their ultimate End and become finally meaningful. ”
In celebrating the Eucharist, “we offer the world and ourselves to God. But we do it in Christ and in remembrance of Him. We do it in Christ because He has already offered all that is to be offered to God. He has performed once and for all this Eucharist and nothing has been left unoffered. And we do it in remembrance of Him because, as we offer again and again our life and our world to God, we discover each time that there is nothing else to be offered but Christ Himself–the Life of the world, the fullness of all that exists.
“It is His Eucharist, and He is the Eucharist.”
“Eucharist (thanksgiving) is the state of perfect man. Eucharist is the life of paradise. Eucharist is the only full and real response of man to God’s creation, redemption, and gift of heaven. But this perfect man who stands before God is Christ….he is the Eucharist of the world. In and through this Eucharist the whole creation becomes what it always was to be and yet failed to be.”
For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.