“The manna helps us see that every single Mass, no matter how simple or grand, is a miracle – the miracle of Christ pouring out his body from the heavenly altar on to every altar in the world.”
The third Jewish expectation of the Messiah that Dr. Pitre found was that he “was going to build a new temple.”
The author explained that one of the most important temple sacrifices for the Israelites was the “unbloody sacrifice known as the bread of the presence.”
“The bread of the presence was this mysterious bread and wine that was kept in the tabernacle,” which the rabbi's called the “bread of the face of God,” he said.
“In the temple in Jesus' day they would actually take the bread out of the temple when pilgrims would come for feasts – and they would lift it so all the pilgrims could see – and they would say 'behold, God's love for you,'” Dr. Pitre said, noting the similarities in the exposition during the Mass.
“This bread of the presence really seemed to me to be a crystal clear foreshadowing of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist,” he noted.
Another echo of Jewish liturgy found in the Mass today, was standard blessing of the bread and the wine said during a Seder, or a traditional Passover meal.
Dr. Pitre recited the ancient prayers over the bread and wine verbatim, saying “Blessed are you, O Lord God, king of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine. Blessed are you, O Lord God, who brings forth the bread from the earth.”
“Do those sound familiar?” he asked, referencing the beginning of the offertory during the Mass.
“As a Catholic when you see these things, it resonates with you – it's all very close to your heart.”
He underscored that the Jewish people “saw the bread as a sign of the everlasting covenant between God and his people.”
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“That's the same thing today with the Eucharist – it is a sign that God is with us, he's not abandoned us.”
Dr. Pitre said that understanding the Jewish roots of the Eucharist helps show how “God has had in store for us, since the dawn of time, the great gift that he gives us in the Eucharist.”
“It helps us to realize the great privilege we have to receive this gift – it's very humbling and powerful.”