Just as in the early Church, the Eucharist completes our initiation as Christians. While all the sacraments lead us into the mysteries of Christ in a divine manner and make us part of his body, this is particularly true in the Mass. The Catechism tells us “the Eucharist is ‘the source and summit of the Christian life’” (n. 1324).
It is also where we give thanks to God for all he has done for us. In fact, the Greek word eucharistia means “thanksgiving.”Luke tells us that Jesus made himself known to the Emmaus disciples “in the breaking of the bread” (24:35). But before this happened, Jesus prepared them for the eucharistic meal with an explanation of how he fulfilled the prophecies and types of the Old Testament: “And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Lk 24:27). Only then did they receive the eyes of faith necessary to recognise Christ in the breaking of the bread.Just like at Emmaus, Christ is present and made known to us in the two parts of the Mass, even though we cannot see him.
The liturgy of the Word leads to, and is fulfilled in, the liturgy of the Eucharist. The message of God we hear becomes a true participation in his divinity as we partake of the Eucharist. As it journeyed beyond the time of Christ and the disciples, the Church demonstrated its understanding of the ritual and doctrine of the Eucharist. There are many examples displaying the overwhelming consensus of the Church with regard to the Eucharist. It has always been understood to be the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ re-presented to us in the Mass.
“My Jesus, what a loveable contrivance this Holy Sacrament was, that you would hide under the appearance of bread to make Yourself loved to be and to be available for a visit by anyone who desires you.”
Saint Alphonsus Liguouri