A Divine Liturgy of the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church
If the Eucharist is a mere symbol of what happened long ago, then how come Scripture says the Blood of Christ has cleansed us (rf. Revelation 1:5), is cleansing us (rf. 1 John 1:7) and shall cleanse us (rf. Hebrews 9:14)? Protestants largely presume that this cleansing only happens once when we are baptized yet this cleansing shows a repetitive action in the past, present and future. At the Last Supper, Our Lord took bread, gave thanks, broke it and gave it to His disciples saying, “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me”, then took the chalice, gave thanks and gave it to His disciples saying, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.”
What should we do in remembrance of Him? Eat His Flesh and drink His Blood. What is the remembrance of Him? To proclaim His death until His return as often as we eat His Flesh and drink His Blood (rf. 1 Corinthians 11:26). We have already shown how the early Christians repeated the Eucharist, the actual Body and Blood of Christ, every Sunday as seen from the works of Saints Justin Martyr and Ignatius of Antioch to name a few. Saint Justin wrote, “And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, . . . bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings” so that the bread and wine become “by transmutation . . . the flesh and blood of that Jesus” (cf. First Apology 66:2-67:1).
So, now that we know this act is repetitive, we also know that the Eucharist is truly propitiatory as the Catechism teaches. At the Last Supper, Our Lord said His Blood “will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins” and that this Blood was offered to the disciples whom were told to “do this in remembrance of” Him. So, every time the apostles and those ordained by them offered the Eucharist, it was the actual Body and Blood of Christ being offered for the forgiveness of sins. So, although Christ died only once; that offering should be made always available for all Christians for all time and not just the first Christians. Saint Paul strengthens this connection by saying, “I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you” (1 Corinthians 11:23), and he proceeds to mention the Last Supper narrative. So, Saint Paul had apostolic succession. He received the ability to confer a valid Eucharist and offer it. Later, the apostle mentions the Blood of Christ has cleansed us (rf. Revelation 1:5), is cleansing us (rf. 1 John 1:7) and shall cleanse us (rf. Hebrews 9:14). He further mentions giving thanks (eucharistia) in several passages (i.e. Colossians 3:17, Ephesians 5:20, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, 2 Thessalonians 2:13). In such passages the Greek verbal form of εὐχαριστία while some other passages use another Greek term for thanksgiving, which shows we should bear in mind the liturgical act of thanksgiving in the Eucharist in these passages as the term suggests and its connection to Saint Justin’s definition of the Eucharist as “the flesh and blood of that Jesus”. So, the Body and Blood of Christ which were shed once and for all on the Cross are continually and repetitively offered to us and passed on through the clergy through “the imposition of [the] hands of the priesthood” (cf. 1 Timothy 4:14).