The New Covenant Brings the Lamb of God
The readings for Holy Thursday clearly illustrate Jesus’ intent concerning worship for the Catholic Church. We see the Old Covenant fulfilled and that the New Covenant brings an entirely new reality.
The first reading, from Exodus provides a glimpse into the Jewish tradition of Passover – a practice Jesus would have participated in with His family.
The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month shall be for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month they shall take every man a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household; and if the household is too small for a lamb, then a man and his neighbor next to his house shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb.
The Old Covenant
After describing the purity of the required lamb, further instructions solidify the manner in which Passover is to be observed. Those who do not are warned of dire consequences.
For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will smite all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD. The blood shall be a sign for you, upon the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall fall upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.
Further, the Jews are commanded to “keep it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations you shall observe it as an ordinance for ever”. From this comes the Old Covenant, observed as commanded to the Jewish people in anticipation of the coming Messiah Who fulfills that law and brings the New Covenant.
The New Covenant
The second reading for Holy Thursday comes from 1 Corinthians and tells us of the Last Supper, the New Covenant, and the first instance of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. When we ponder this choice of readings, one from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament, we confirm that Jesus did, indeed, come to fulfill the Old Law by the institution of a New Covenant.
For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, And when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
The Transformation of Worship
What we see is a transformation in worship. Before Jesus instituted the New Covenant, a creature was the sacrificial lamb. After the Last Supper we are commanded to observe the New Covenant by memorializing the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the World – Jesus, the Lamb of God.
This brings us to the logical, and morally sound, conclusion that celebrating a Seder Meal, or any other novelty, is not a practice that should be observed by Catholic Christians. We are the Easter People and Jesus is the Lamb of God. He is the New Covenant, the New Sacrifice, and His death saves us from Eternal damnation. No longer are we to offer animal sacrifices; the Temple has fallen, the biblical Jewish priests are gone, and Jesus has died for our Salvation.
As we celebrate the most holy of seasons – the Triduum, let us remember the importance of our beautiful faith, given to us by Jesus the Christ Himself!
NOTE: If you’d like to delve further into this teaching please continue to Why Christians Shouldn’t Celebrate Seder Meals. There you’ll find references from Saint Thomas Aquinas, the Council of Trent, and Catholic theology books as well as an extremely informative audio presentation by a good holy priest.