A Painting for the Year of the Eucharist by Peter Koenig
This painting by Peter Koenig is in the meeting room in the former organ loft in St. Edward’s church
“The Lord Jesus on the night he was betrayed” (1 Cor. 11:23) instituted the Eucharistic Sacrifice of his body and blood. The Eucharist is not only a reminder, but the sacramental representation of the Lord’s passion and death. It is the sacrifice of the Cross perpetuated down the ages. When the Church celebrates the Eucharist, the memorial of her Lord’ death and resurrection, this central event of our salvation becomes really present. Each member of the faithful can thus take part in it and inexhaustibly gain its fruits. This is the faith from which generations of Christians down the ages have lived. (Pope John Paul II) It is, therefore, particularly fitting for the symbols of the Eucharist to be depicted in the form of the Cross.
After the consecration, the priest proclaims ‘The Mystery of Faith’: the Church, therefore, has sought throughout the ages, and in the scriptures, to place images of the Eucharist before us. They do not exhaust the mystery, which always remains, but help reveal some of its riches.
The Last Supper
At every celebration of the Eucharist we are spiritually brough back to the events of holy week, the evening of Holy Thursday, to the Last Supper and what followed it. Every priest who celebrates Holy Mass, together with the Christian community which takes part in it, is led back in spirit to that place and that hour. (Pope John Paul) “The disciples said to Jesus, ‘Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?’” (Mark 14:12). In our picture we are reminded in many ways of the Jewish Passover – the lamb, the bitter herbs, the unleavened bread – and so of God rescuing His People from slavery. Now Jesus is our Lamb of sacrifice and we are rescued from the slavery of sin. On the Cross he offers Himself for us as if each one were alone.
Feeding her chicks with her own blood is also an ancient symbol of the Lord feeding us with His own body and blood. It can be seen at the famous triangular lodge in Rushton, which dates from 1595.
Food of Travellers
The Old Testament figure of Elijah (cf. First Book of Kings, chapter 19) in the 9th century BC is at constant odds with idolatrous monarchy, which has turned away from the One living God. Queen Jezebel sought his life, and Elijah fled into the wilderness, fearing for his life. There God woke him from his fitful sleep, providing him with a baked scone and a jar of water, so that he would have strength to walk to the mountain of God. So the Eucharist is the food we need for our journey.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that bears fruit, he prunes to make it bear even more. I am the vine, you are the branches… cut off from me you can do nothing.” (John 15) These words spoken at the Last Supper also remind us of Jesus’s gift of himself to us – body, blood, soul and divinity.
I am the Bread of Life
In the Old Testament, the people feared they would starve as they escaped from Egypt and started to cross the desert. God gave them manna to eat, to sustain them on their way. Jesus said “My flesh is real food, and my blood is real drink. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in him. This is the bread come down from heaven; not like the bread our ancestors ate: they are dead – but anyone who eats this bread will live for ever.” (John 6)
We say ‘Amen’ to what we receive, ‘The body of Christ’ and ‘Amen’ to what we are made, members of Christ’s Body, the Church. Like the Storm on the lake, Christ s with us in the ship of the Church, leading us together through all perils.