The Last Supper

Scripture Reading

One of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot,
went to the chief priests and said,
“What are you willing to give me
if I hand him over to you?”
They paid him thirty pieces of silver,
and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread,
the disciples approached Jesus and said,
“Where do you want us to prepare
for you to eat the Passover?”
He said,
“Go into the city to a certain man and tell him,
‘The teacher says, My appointed time draws near;
in your house I shall celebrate the Passover with my disciples.'”
The disciples then did as Jesus had ordered,
and prepared the Passover.

When it was evening,
he reclined at table with the Twelve.
And while they were eating, he said,
“Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”
Deeply distressed at this,
they began to say to him one after another,
“Surely it is not I, Lord?”
He said in reply,
“He who has dipped his hand into the dish with me
is the one who will betray me.
The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him,
but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed.
It would be better for that man if he had never been born.”
Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply,
“Surely it is not I, Rabbi?”
He answered, “You have said so.”
(Matthew 26:14-25)

Scripture Study

26:15 thirty pieces of silver: The price of a slave (Ex 21:32). Judas’ betrayal for “blood money” (27:6) stands in contrast to the lavish gesture of the woman (26:6–13). He places little value on Jesus and prefers instead personal gain.

26:17 first day of Unleavened Bread: Begins with the day of Passover. During this feast, the Jews ate only unleavened bread for seven days (Ex 12:14–20).

26:26–29 Matthew’s Last Supper account highlights three aspects of the Eucharist (CCC 1339–40). (1) Jesus identifies the unleavened bread and the chalice with his body and blood (26:26–28). Through his spoken words the mystery of “transubstantiation” takes place: his body and blood replace the entire substance of the bread and wine. Although his presence remains undetected by the senses, the force of the verb “is” (Gk. estin) should not be reduced to “represents” or “symbolizes”. The Church’s faith rests entirely on Jesus’ solemn words (cf. Jn 6:68; 2 Cor 5:7). (2) Jesus links the Eucharist with his forthcoming sacrifice on the Cross (27:35; Jn 19:34). The expression poured out (26:28) recalls how Old Covenant priests poured the blood of sacrificial offerings at the base of the Temple’s altar to make atonement for sin (Lev 4:16–20; cf. Deut 12:26, 27; Is 53:12). Shedding his own blood, Jesus is both the high priest and the sacrificial victim of the New Covenant; his priestly offering is present in an unbloody manner in the sacrament and secures for us the forgiveness of sins. (3) Christ’s presence in the Eucharist makes the sacrament a true communion with Jesus (1 Cor 10:16). The phrase blood of the covenant is drawn from Ex 24:8, where God entered a covenant of love and communion with Israel through sacrifice. The consumption of blood—always forbidden under the Old Covenant (Lev 17:11–12)—is now enjoined in the New, since it communicates Christ’s divine life to the believer (Jn 6:53; CCC 1329, 1374, 1381).

Scripture Reflection

Friends, today’s Gospel recounts the preparations for Passover, which would be Jesus’ final meal before his death.

In Matthew’s Gospel, the Last Supper takes place during Passover, the day when the paschal lambs were slaughtered. Why is this important? Because Christ is himself the paschal lamb who will be slaughtered for the salvation of the world, and this sacrifice is made sacramentally present at every Mass.

Interestingly, Judas is present there at the Last Supper, the root of the Mass. This is startlingly good news. Why? It means Jesus associates with all of us sinners, in all of our dysfunction. He entered into the darkness in all of its power in order to bring the light. If even Judas was invited into the Lord’s presence, so are you.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.