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The Bread of life in Genesis

02 Sep 2019, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Doctrines

There may be the attempt to pair the Old and the New Testaments to conclude which is more important, but such comparison is inconsequential because both are interlaced. However, the New Testament explains the intertwined nature of the bible (both the Old and the New Testaments).

The Spirit of truth promised and given in the New Testament helps to understand the rich mysteries hidden in the Old. No wonder “Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants;…” Lk. 10:21. Jesus certainly did not come to abolish the old but to fulfill it (Mt. 5:17).

The Holy Eucharist instituted by Christ on Holy Thursday was prefigured in the Old Testament in many different ways. He already planted the tree that would produce the bread of life before the New Testament era, yet the bread of life mysteriously has no beginning.

The expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden was not only on account of their disobedience in eating the forbidden fruit of knowledge but also to obviate the temptation of eating the fruit of life and live forever (Gen. 3:22-24). In Genesis, the fruit of eternal life was already in existence as John wrote; “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the Word was God” (Jn. 1:1-2). At the fullness of time, the word/fruit of everlasting life took flesh and was born of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and he said, “I am the living bread that has come down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever, and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh (Jn. 6:51).

The fruit of the tree of life in Genesis was only preserved to be revealed at the fullness of time, and indeed it was revealed and fulfilled in Christ Jesus. The mystery surrounding the fruit of life in Genesis is revealed as Christ who hung on a branch of a tree (the cross); he’s, therefore, the fruit turned bread of life we must eat to live forever in God’s presence.

By hanging on the tree, he not only saved us from the sin of disobedience we inherited from Adam and Eve, but he also purchased us by his Blood to be joint-heirs with him (Rom. 8:17). St. Paul reminds us that “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us. It is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’ (Gal. 3:13).

Therefore, the Holy Eucharist is a sacrifice and a celebration of the everlasting life we have in God. The Church is truly fortunate to be blest with such an amazing sacrament in which we receive Christ the bread of life. The tree of life is no longer guarded nor protected with a flaming and turning sword as in Genesis 3:24; it has become our Eucharistic altar to which all are now invited. Adam and Eve were chased out of Eden to avoid the temptation to eat of the tree of life, but through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, we are invited to partake of the bread of life. The Eucharist, “the source and summit of our Christian life,” is a mystery hidden throughout the ages now revealed (Colo. 1:26). As Catholics, therefore, the Holy Mass should mean much more than mere memorial celebration. The Mass is real; at Mass, we eat the Body of Christ and drink his Blood.