It was on the first Maundy Thursday, the day before Christ died on the cross, that Jesus instituted the Sacrament of Holy Order (ministerial priesthood) and the Sacrament of the Eucharist. On that day, Christ gave, in the form of bread and wine, his real flesh to eat and his real blood to drink. He did not do this without first making it clear to his disciples that he is the true bread from heaven, declaring solemnly that “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:53-54).
In that institution, Jesus replaced the Passover bread with the True Bread and the Passover lamb with the Lamb of God, who is not to be sacrificed daily or yearly but has rather been offered to the Father, eternally, at the Altar of the Cross.
Before the introduction of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, the Jews have been worshiping God in the Temple by offering two lambs every day, morning and evening, and by offering the Paschal Lamb on the eve of Passover every year. When Christ came, he said, “The hour is coming in which neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father” (John 4:21). Jesus was referring to the fulfillment of Malachi’s words through whom the Lord says, “From the rising of the sun even to its setting, My name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense is going to be offered to My name, and a grain offering that is pure; for My name will be great among the nations” (Malachi 1:11). There is no pure offering in the sight of God than that of Christ himself, and the only way to do it in every place on earth, from the rising of the sun to its setting, is through the Sacrament of the Eucharist where the eternal Sacrifice is being brought in time and in space.
This is a mystery that we will continually appreciate, meditate on, and benefit from, until we reach heaven.