A Catholic Monthly Magazine

A-Dieu : A Eucharistic Reflection

"Truly, I say to you, I will not taste the fruit of the vine again until the day I drink the new wine in the kingdom of God." Mark 14:25

This statement by Jesus strikes me as very important. Jesus is stating that the gift of the Eucharist he is leaving his disciples is a foretaste of the celebration we will have with him in heaven!
One commentary states ‘The Eucharist not only re-enacts Jesus’ death but also announces the day when Christ, with all humanity reunited in him, will celebrate at the Banquet in the Kingdom.’ [Christian Community Bible. Claretian Publications Quezon City Philippines 1995]
The significance of what Jesus pledged is further hinted at just before we receive Communion in the statement ‘Blessed those called to the Supper of the Lamb’ which links us with and prepares us for the ‘Marriage Banquet’ of heaven. Revelation 19:9
What tremendous hope and purpose this gives you and me! What wonderful expectation we can have fuelled by our participation in Mass. What a renewed and deepened understanding of the Eucharist.

I believe we can visually link this pledge with the lifting of the Chalice. This is my Blood, my Agreement or Covenant with you. Kia kaha! Keep on!

I see this deeply sacramental moment echoed in the ‘toast’ we make when we clink our wine glasses and make a special greeting to each other: Salut. Prost. Kia ora. Cheers. Chin chin! You will know other toasts.

On the surface these may seem rather commonplace, but there can be a deep purpose behind our toast. To Absent Friends. To --- On your ---. To good health. In gratitude for ---.

I think of one special occasion that illustrates this for me. A lovely lady, Sue Donovan, was dying from cancer and had a limited time to live. I went to see her and we both knew it would probably be the last time we would see each other, in part because I was off for some chaplaincy in Antarctica. It was a lovely sunny day and Sue and some of the family were sitting on the veranda. ‘Would you like a glass of wine?’ ‘Yes, indeed’. Our toast and clinking of glasses contained full understanding and love and needed no words.

Sue wrote me a lovely note addressed to Fr Phil Cody, Scott Base, Antarctica and dropped it in the post-box! It arrived on the day I was leaving! Sue had a lovely blessing which I reprint here:

May the Lord Jesus Christ be with you to protect you.
May he be within you to renew you,
Beside you to keep you.
May he go before you to guide you,
Behind you to strengthen you.
And may he be over you to bless you forever. Amen.

I experienced another example of the power and meaning of a ‘simple toast’ recently on a walk through the Abel Tasman. [As an aside, if you have not walked it or part of it, it is wonderful]. Our ‘tramping’ group is of an age where we get transport to carry our main pack between huts – in this case an exciting ‘water taxi’. This enabled us to take a bottle of wine for each evening meal. In fact one person has stated quite clearly ‘No wine; no tramp’!

 There is little more satisfying an opportunity than being able to celebrate the beauty of life after a good day’s walk (or work, or whatever) and clink glasses with gratitude. Well, to be honest, the colourful plastic wine goblets we brought specially did not exactly ‘clink’, but the wine tasted very good. There was more to the toast and wish in the open beauty of God’s creation than was at first apparent.


If you have seen the film Of Gods and Men you will have witnessed the poignancy of the monks’ ‘final toast’.

I suppose something of that symbolism was behind the lasting pledge that ended in the smashing of wine glasses in a fireplace after the wine had been finished. A lasting and unique toast.

Which brings us back to the ‘toast’ and ‘covenant’ of the Eucharist. The lifting of the Chalice has so much significance and reality: I love you. This is my pledge to you. I give you my Life by the shedding of my Blood. You are my friend. My Lord and my God. Do not be afraid. Here’s to heaven where you and I will be fully together again.

Perhaps you and I might take a deeper grasp of the significance of the toasts we make when we touch glasses with family and friends. While there may not always be the serious nature of a ‘final toast’, an ‘Adieu’ or a ‘Ci vedremo’ (Here’s to our meeting in God. There we shall see one another again and for eternity), there can be an echo of the promise of Jesus to us.

Truly, I say to you, I will not taste the fruit of the vine again until the day I drink the new wine in the kingdom of God.

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