A Mother’s Guide to the Eucharist

By Kimberly Hahn 

Kimberly Hahn is a Catholic speaker and author who for decades has shared her wisdom with other wives and mothers. She is the author of several books, including Graced and Gifted: Biblical Wisdom for the Homemaker's Heart.


Kimberly Hahn, Graced and Gifted
Photo Credit: Neonbrand

God provides food that is needful. In the Old Testament there are three examples of God’s provision of food for his people that reveal important truths about the spiritual food he gives us in the Eucharist: the Passover, the daily provision of manna for God’s people in the desert, and the Todah sacrifice in the temple. 

In order for the angel of death to “pass over” their homes, Moses describes what the Israelites have to do. They are to kill an unblemished lamb, spread its blood over the lintel, and then cook and eat the whole lamb (see Exodus 12:5–13). Only those Israelites who observe the Lord’s Passover will preserve their firstborn son’s life. 

Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, Saint John announces at Christ’s Baptism. Like the Passover sacrifice, Jesus has died, he covers us with his blood, and he calls us to feast on him at each Eucharistic celebration. “For Christ, our Paschal [Passover] Lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us, therefore, celebrate the festival” (1 Corinthians 5:7–8a). 

After the Exodus the Israelites wander in the wilderness for forty years. God provides miraculous daily bread (see Exodus 16:14–15), which the people call “manna.” 

Jesus contrasts the manna the Israelites received with the gift of life he offers: 

I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh. (John 6:48–51) 

Jesus is the living bread of God. 

The Todah was the only sacrifice in the old covenant that would never end. It was literally a sacrifice of “thanksgiving.” An example of this is found in Psalm 50:14–15: 

Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High; and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me. 

This passage reveals the following pattern: Someone recounts his peril; he cries out to the Lord; he promises to offer the Todah when God answers. 

When the Lord delivers the person, the petitioner takes to the temple a lamb for sacrifice and bread to be consecrated. This is the only consecrated bread that laypeople can eat. Then he gathers his family and friends to share the consecrated bread and a cup of wine, declaring the Lord’s salvation so that all can share in the thanksgiving. 

Does that sound familiar? Jesus “gave thanks” (from the Greek word eucharisteo), blessed bread, broke it, and shared it with his disciples, saying, “‘This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ And likewise the chalice after supper, saying, ‘This chalice which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood’” (Luke 22:19b–20). 

The sacrifice of the Mass is our covenant meal, renewing our covenant with God in thanksgiving for all he has done for us. “The Holy Spirit who thus awakens the memory of the Church then inspires thanksgiving and praise (doxology)” (CCC, 1103). Once the Spirit awakens our spirits, we respond with songs and prayers, staying to offer a “thanksgiving” after Mass, rather than making a fifty-yard dash to the parking lot! 

We offer ourselves at Mass through the gift of bread and wine. Through the words of consecration spoken by the priest in persona Christi, the Holy Spirit transforms the bread and wine into the very Body and Blood of our crucified, resurrected, and ascended Lord. Jesus, our high priest in heaven, perpetually offers himself, the once-for-all sacrifice on our altar for us to adore and to receive. 

In imitation of Christ, we are called to be living sacrifices. We leave Mass to continue our mission to love and to serve the Lord. Through our ordinary work done in his extraordinary grace, we return home to love and to serve our families. 

May we share Jesus at the table of the Lord and then be strengthened to serve our families at our table at home. And may our dinnertimes reflect our thanksgiving for the grace our Lord has lavished on us. 

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