Synagogue Elements in the Mass

In 08 Book Corner on 2012/03/25 at 9:11 AM

In the Hallel Psalms (113-18, and 136) sung at Passover, “past history constantly comes into the present.  Thanksgiving for liberation is at the same time a plea for help in the face of new tribulations and threats….

Jesus prayed the Psalms of Israel with his disciples: this element is fundamental for understanding he figure of Jesus, but also for understanding the Psalms themselves, which in him acquire a new mode of presence-and an extension beyond Israel into universality…..

In the early Church, Jesus was immediately hailed as the new David, the real David and so the psalms could be recited in a new way-yet without discontinuity-as a prayer in communion with Jesus Christ.

Augustine offered a perfect explanation of this Christian way of praying the Psalms  by saying: it is always Christ who is speaking in the Psalms-now as the head, now as the body….Yet through him-through Jesus Christ-all of us now for a single subject, and so, in union with him, we can truly speak to God.

This process of appropriation and reinterpretation which begins with Jesus’ praying the Psalms, is a typical illustration of the unity of the two Testaments, as taught to us by Jesus.

It was logical that the liturgy of the Word-reading of Scripture, commentary on the reading, and prayer-which at first still took place in the synagogue, came to be joined to the celebration of the Eucharist.

In the eyewitness account related in Acts 20:6-11 …. we read: “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread” (20:7).  The ‘breaking of bread’ was already fixed for the morning of the day of Resurrection in the apostolic age-the Eucharist was already celebrated as an encounter with the risen Lord.

The day of Resurrection is the Lord’s day and thus it is also the day of his disciples, the day of the Church.  At the end of the first century, the tradition  is already clearly established.  For example, the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles (Didache, ca.110) states quite unambiguously: “Assemble on the Lord’s day and break bread and offer the Eucharist, but first make confession of your faults: (14:1)  For Ignatius of Antioch (d.ca.110), life ‘ordered by the Lord’s day’ is a distinguishing feature of Christians….

The institution narrative and the Resurrection tradition (1 Cor 15:3-8) occupy a special place in Paul’s letters: they are preexistent texts that the Apostle had already ‘received’ that he takes pains to hand on literraly….Paul received the words of the Last Supper from within the early community in a manner that left him quite certain of their authenticity quite certain they were the Lords’s own words….But what makes the text normative for worship in Paul’s eyes is the very fact that it reproduces the Lord’s testament literally.

It was taken as a given that the tradition of Jesus’ words would not exist without reception by the early Church, which was conscious of a strict obligation to faithfulness in essentials

Ratzinger, Joseph JESUS OF NAZARETH.  Part II, pp. 115, 116, 143, 144,146.  Ignatius Press.



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