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Doctrines & Morals
 
 
 
Bishop's Message/Blog

HIS GRACE EXHORTATION FOR THE MONTH OF JUNE

DO THIS IN MEMORY OF ME: MEMORY AND PRESENCE

May the peace of Christ reign in your hearts

These words which were spoken at the Last Supper obviously have deep ties with the Passover in the book of Exodus. However, the intimate connection between both events is especially more clearly pronounced in the aspect of memory. Both events are about memory or remembrance.

The Passover was and is still a special time of keeping in memory how God chose His people from the beginning of time and how He led His chosen people out of slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land. God wanted them to remember the way Moses challenged the great Pharaoh of Egypt to let God's people go, and the series of plagues that were sent to convince Pharaoh to free the Israelites.

God wanted His people to remember how He broke the stubborn resistance of Pharaoh with the warning that the first born in Egypt would be slain. There was only one way to escape this death. Each household was to kill a lamb and put some of its blood on the doorposts of their houses. The flesh of the lamb was to be roasted and eaten with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. When the angel of death sees the blood on the doorposts he would "pass over" their homes and those inside would be safe.

Till today, faithful Jews celebrate the Passover and thank God for their deliverance from Egypt. When they celebrated the Passover they recalled with horror the slavery in Egypt, the lash of the whip on bare flesh, the scorching heat, working till they dropped. But they also recalled with great delight how God in His love saw them in their anguish and came to their rescue. They remembered the daily supply of food that fell from the heavens, how the cloud led them during the day, and a blazing fire at night. Not only was the Passover a time of recalling, but it was also a time of thanksgiving and celebration. They praised God for His love. That is why God said to them, "This day shall be for you a memorial and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations." (Ex. 12:14.)

At the Last Supper, Jesus also made a similar statement as did God in Ex. 12:14 when he said:  “Do this in memory of me” (Lk. 22:19).

This command of Our Lord suggests that Christians may forget Jesus Christ. These words imply the possibility of forgetfulness concerning Him whom gratitude and affection should compel them to remember. In other words, there would be no need for this loving command, if there was not a fearful possibility that our memories might prove unfaithful, and our remembrance unreliable in the long run.

At first sight, it seems perhaps a crime too gross to lay at the door of converted Christian men and women. It appears almost impossible that those who have been redeemed by the blood of the dying Lamb should ever forget their Redeemer; that those who have been loved with an everlasting love by the eternal Son of God, should ever forget that Son; but if it is startling to the ear, it is certainly more apparent to the eye to allow us to deny the fact.

We forget him who never forgets us! We forget him who poured his blood out for our sins! We forget him who loved us even to death. The very object which we should make the king of our hearts is the very thing we are most inclined to forget. Where one would think that memory would linger, and unmindfulness would be an unknown intruder, that is the spot which is desecrated by the feet of forgetfulness.

 

In other words, “Do this in memory of me” means that He took a piece of bread and gave it to his disciples to eat, and said, "This is my body. Remember it was broken for you." He took a cup of wine and gave it to them to drink and said, "Remember that my blood was shed for your sins."

For us Catholics, however, the Eucharist is not merely a remembrance as though Jesus were a relic of the past that we are urged to bring to present consciousness, but it is also about a presence, a real presence, body, blood, soul and divinity. He is truly present in the Eucharist here and now. This is what the Church means when she speaks of the "Real Presence" of Christ in the Eucharist. This presence of Christ in the Eucharist is called "real" not to exclude other types of his presence as if they could not be understood as real (cf. Catechism, no. 1374). The risen Christ is present to his Church in many ways, but most especially through the sacrament of his Body and Blood.

Memory and presence therefore are imperative when we reflect on the Eucharist. When we therefore receive Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, We remember with thanksgiving what Christ has done for us through his death and resurrection but also we remember with regret that it was our sin that led to Jesus’ death on the cross. We remember with joy that our sins are forgiven but also we remember with repentant hearts that our lives have not demonstrated Christ living in us. Finally, we remember with anticipation when at last we will gather around the heavenly banquet table.

 

Alfred Adewale Martins

Archbishop of Lagos

 

 


Oly Holy 


May the peace of Christ reign in your hearts

These words which were spoken at the Last Supper obviously have deep ties with the Passover in the book of Exodus. However, the intimate connection between both events is especially more clearly pronounced in the aspect of memory. Both events are about memory or remembrance.

The Passover was and is still a special time of keeping in memory how God chose His people from the beginning of time and how He led His chosen people out of slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land. God wanted them to remember the way Moses challenged the great Pharaoh of Egypt to let God's people go, and the series of plagues that were sent to convince Pharaoh to free the Israelites.

God wanted His people to remember how He broke the stubborn resistance of Pharaoh with the warning that the first born in Egypt would be slain. There was only one way to escape this death. Each household was to kill a lamb and put some of its blood on the doorposts of their houses. The flesh of the lamb was to be roasted and eaten with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. When the angel of death sees the blood on the doorposts he would "pass over" their homes and those inside would be safe.

Till today, faithful Jews celebrate the Passover and thank God for their deliverance from Egypt. When they celebrated the Passover they recalled with horror the slavery in Egypt, the lash of the whip on bare flesh, the scorching heat, working till they dropped. But they also recalled with great delight how God in His love saw them in their anguish and came to their rescue. They remembered the daily supply of food that fell from the heavens, how the cloud led them during the day, and a blazing fire at night. Not only was the Passover a time of recalling, but it was also a time of thanksgiving and celebration. They praised God for His love. That is why God said to them, "This day shall be for you a memorial and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations." (Ex. 12:14.)

At the Last Supper, Jesus also made a similar statement as did God in Ex. 12:14 when he said:  “Do this in memory of me” (Lk. 22:19).

This command of Our Lord suggests that Christians may forget Jesus Christ. These words imply the possibility of forgetfulness concerning Him whom gratitude and affection should compel them to remember. In other words, there would be no need for this loving command, if there was not a fearful possibility that our memories might prove unfaithful, and our remembrance unreliable in the long run.

At first sight, it seems perhaps a crime too gross to lay at the door of converted Christian men and women. It appears almost impossible that those who have been redeemed by the blood of the dying Lamb should ever forget their Redeemer; that those who have been loved with an everlasting love by the eternal Son of God, should ever forget that Son; but if it is startling to the ear, it is certainly more apparent to the eye to allow us to deny the fact.

We forget him who never forgets us! We forget him who poured his blood out for our sins! We forget him who loved us even to death. The very object which we should make the king of our hearts is the very thing we are most inclined to forget. Where one would think that memory would linger, and unmindfulness would be an unknown intruder, that is the spot which is desecrated by the feet of forgetfulness.

 

In other words, “Do this in memory of me” means that He took a piece of bread and gave it to his disciples to eat, and said, "This is my body. Remember it was broken for you." He took a cup of wine and gave it to them to drink and said, "Remember that my blood was shed for your sins."

For us Catholics, however, the Eucharist is not merely a remembrance as though Jesus were a relic of the past that we are urged to bring to present consciousness, but it is also about a presence, a real presence, body, blood, soul and divinity. He is truly present in the Eucharist here and now. This is what the Church means when she speaks of the "Real Presence" of Christ in the Eucharist. This presence of Christ in the Eucharist is called "real" not to exclude other types of his presence as if they could not be understood as real (cf. Catechism, no. 1374). The risen Christ is present to his Church in many ways, but most especially through the sacrament of his Body and Blood.

Memory and presence therefore are imperative when we reflect on the Eucharist. When we therefore receive Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, We remember with thanksgiving what Christ has done for us through his death and resurrection but also we remember with regret that it was our sin that led to Jesus’ death on the cross. We remember with joy that our sins are forgiven but also we remember with repentant hearts that our lives have not demonstrated Christ living in us. Finally, we remember with anticipation when at last we will gather around the heavenly banquet table.

 

Alfred Adewale Martins

Archbishop of Lagos

 

 


Oly Holy 

 

 

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