And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19)
Jesus is our Eucharistic Lord. He is our thanksgiving. He is our offering to God.
Christ’s whole life was an offering, a thanksgiving sacrifice poured out unto the Father and given for us.
Thus in the language of Scripture, we can hear a summary of the Gospel, of Christ, in the words of the Last Supper.
And he took bread, and when he had given thanks (εὐχαριστήσας), he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
Thus Jesus became our thanksgiving, given for us and to us, that we might, united in him, offer perfect thanks to the Father.
Reflecting on Nate Shurden’s Sermon on the Eucharist and its roots in grace (χάρις), etymologically and salvifically, we can make sense Paul’s exhortation in 1 Thessalonians:
Rejoice always (Πάντοτε χαίρετε), pray without ceasing (εὐχαριστεῖτε), give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
Paul does not call us to love evil per se, that is, to want or enjoy bad things. That would be psychological and spiritual masochism. It is true, we must be careful to discern that which is truly evil from that which is simply unpleasant to us, and at times we cannot fully comprehend such a discernment.
But in a way, Paul asks us to do something more straightforward, something humbler, something much more remarkable and magnificent! He calls us to imitate and become like our Eucharistic Lord who for the joy (χαρᾶς) set before him, endured the cross (Heb. 12:12).
To put it more radically, we are not called to enjoy bad things, but to be so united to God, so fixed upon him, that our hearts cannot wholly be shaken from that gracious hope.
This to is expressed in Christ’s language:
“This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
The Eucharistic is given unto us both as something to receive and as something to imitate. It is the active and embodied memory of the Church, Christ body. Thus the Eucharist is an image of our head and simultaneously a pattern for the body which we are to remember. It Jesus’s gift–our unity with him!
We are therefore not called to enjoy bad things. We are called to become thanksgiving. Our unshaken joy is to be founded upon his body, broken for us. Thus united to Christ, our whole life may become a living offering of thanks to God. In Christ, we become thanksgiving.
Praise be to God for our Eucharistic Lord!