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The Cup We Share: The Intricate Connection between the Mosaic and the New Covenants

Jesus utilized the Passover Seder to not only institute a new ritual that we now refer to as the Mass, but also to bring to fruition His New and Eternal Covenant.

To understand how Christ accomplished this, one needs to understand the ritual that God instituted as a perpetual ordinance upon His chosen people in the Mosaic Covenant. The Israelites were to observe this ritual, the Passover Seder, on each anniversary of the first Passover. This was to be done in remembrance of “the Passover sacrifice of the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt; when he struck down the first born of the Egyptians, he spared our houses” (Ex 12:27).

Over a millennium before the coming of the Messiah, the Passover Seder was instituted. This ritual had a unique and defined structure to it, much like we experience in the Mass today. The word Seder itself means “order.”

Our knowledge of this ancient ritual comes down to us from the Mishnah, a collection of rabbinic writings which served as a biblical commentary to the books of the Old Testament. The Mishnah was so revered by the Jews at the time of Jesus, that it was second in authority to the Sacred Scriptures.

This ritual had four parts to it and each part had in common prayers, hymns, blessings, and a cup of wine mixed with a little water which was to be consumed by every participant at the conclusion of each part.

Each of the four cups had a name. The first cup was called the Cup of Sanctification; the second the Cup of Proclamation; the third the Cup of Blessing; and the fourth the Cup of Praise.

During the Last Supper, which of course was a Passover Seder, everything went as was customary during its first two parts. But things changed dramatically during the third part, the Cup of Blessing.

We know that Jesus instituted the Eucharist during the third part of the Passover Seder because St. Paul makes specific reference to it in his first letter to the Corinthians: “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” (1 Cor 10:16) [emphasis added].

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