Sometimes in the Mass, after we recite the Mystery of Faith, the Priest will say one of four Eucharistic Prayers.
One Eucharistic Prayer includes this:
“Be pleased to look upon these offerings with a serene and kindly countenance, and to accept them, as you were pleased to accept the gifts of your servant Abel the just, the sacrifice of Abraham, our father in faith, and the offering of your high priest Melchizedek, a holy sacrifice, a spotless victim.”
We know who Abel is and we know what Abraham’s sacrifice was, but who the heck was Melchiezedek? Today’s passage doesn’t give us much, but a little can go a long way.
Melchizedek was one of the five kings who was warring with some other kings in the area. In the midst of the war, Abraham’s nephew, Lot, got captured. Melchizedek was not only a king, though, but a high priest of God. After Abraham rescued Lot, Melchiezedek brought out the bread and wine and gave a blessing to Abraham.
What’s another special occasion other than Mass that involves family, a feast, and a blessing? If you said “Thanksgiving,” you’re right! In fact, the word “Eucharist” means “Thanksgiving.”
It always saddens me whenever people feel like they have to receive Communion or feel entitled to it or just receive it passively. The Eucharist is a gift that should be received with gratitude and reverence. But the wonderful thing about this sacrament is that it’s more than just something we receive. It’s an experience.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says:
“The Eucharist, the sacrament of our salvation accomplished by Christ on the cross, is also a sacrifice of praise in thanksgiving for the work of creation. In the Eucharistic sacrifice the whole of creation loved by God is presented to the Father through the death and the Resurrection of Christ. Through Christ the Church can offer the sacrifice of praise in thanksgiving for all that God has made good, beautiful, and just in creation and in humanity."
The Eucharist is a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Father, a blessing by which the Church expresses her gratitude to God for all his benefits, for all that he has accomplished through creation, redemption, and sanctification. Eucharist means first of all “thanksgiving.”
The Eucharist is also the sacrifice of praise by which the Church sings the glory of God in the name of all creation. This sacrifice of praise is possible only through Christ: he unites the faithful to his person, to his praise, and to his intercession, so that the sacrifice of praise to the Father is offered through Christ and with him, to be accepted in him.” (CCC 1359-1361)
Through the Eucharist, we praise God and express gratitude for all of the things He did, and we become united to God and with Christ. When we receive the Eucharist, Christ dwells within us.
It’s like what Paul says in today’s passage from Galatians:
“For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. “
I pray that the next time you go to Mass, you would be filled with gratitude knowing that Christ lives in you. Take some time today (hopefully in front of the Blessed Sacrament) to pray about what you’re grateful for. God bless, dear sisters in Christ!