An introductory section discusses the Church's faith in the "real presence" of the Saviour in the Eucharist. From Apostolic times, it is clear, the Church in both East and West has believed that what is placed in the altar as bread and wine becomes the real body of the Lord. History has clear lessons:
* Concerning the "reservation" of the consecrated Sacrament after Mass
* Concerning changing attitudes in the Middle Ages to Eucharistic participation and Eucharistic veneration
* Concerning Protestantism's negative attitudes to the Eucharist.
The main part of the talk shows that biblical scholarship helps us to recover the essential experience of those who took part in the Last Supper.
Table Fellowship had an important place in the life of Jesus: more than once he performed at table actions of great significance. Those who shared his table had recognised that he was the Messiah Israel hoped for – as he led them in prayer, their faith must have been filled with anticipation.
This was the Passover Meal, the great memorial of Israel's liberation from slavery in Egypt. Many devout Jews believed that the Messiah would be reviewed on the night of the Passover.
This was almost certainly a farewell meal. What would Jesus do to mark the occasion?
Taking the unleavened bread of the Passover meal and the traditional cup of wine, Jesus gave God thanks and praise and gave them to his friends with such words as "This is my body, broken, given for you", "This is my blood of the covenant poured out for the people".
The Church's constant faith makes it clear that Jesus is giving his real body and blood in the form of a meal, which expresses the reality of his death. Why does he do this? That his followers may share in all that his death and resurrection were to achieve - the Paschal Mystery in which he gives all that he is into the hands of his Father, as the perfect worship of the whole of Creation, and he becomes the healing of the whole world.
Analysis of the function of a symbol confirms the Church's traditional faith.
Theology uses various thought-forms to bring out all this unprecedented ritual implies:
* Covenant and Communion
* Anticipation of eternal life.