Mark's Gospel demonstrated how Jesus became our Savior by suffering for us.

Sunday, 4/1/12
For Palm Sunday every year we have the reading for the Passion of Jesus. One year it’s from Luke, one year from Matthew; this year it’s from Mark. Luke’s account is a fourth longer than Mark’s. Matthew’s is a third longer. They have some of our favorite parts: like the weeping women of Jerusalem and the good thief who would be with Jesus in Paradise.
What Mark’s story of the Passion has is authenticity, even intimacy. He seems to have been the boy wrapped in a bed sheet who followed the crowd that captured Jesus. When soldiers grabbed his sheet, he left it behind, running home naked. He knew not only Simon of Cyrene, he also knew Simon’s sons Alexander and Rufus.
Mark’s was the first Gospel written, with Matthew and Luke borrowing large chunks of it for their accounts.
Mark wrote to change the minds of those who felt that a person crucified as a traitor could not be the Savior. Mark demonstrated that it was by holding strong through the insults and pain that Jesus demonstrated himself to be the Savior.

Our sure hope in God gets us though every crisis.

Saturday, 3/31/12
Every day’s news is crowded with stories of crooked leaders and with the suffering of thousands of innocents. It leads us to expect mankind to rot away, but that won’t happen. What will keep us going is a down-pouring of God’s graces that prompt men and women to do the right things.
The first reading came from a time that could not have been more bleak. The army of Babylon had flattened Jerusalem, carrying off its citizens as slaves. Ezekiel was one of those citizens, but his experience of God’s faithfulness kept him upbeat. He was sure that God would restore Jerusalem, he even foresaw a reuniting of the long-divided kingdoms of Judah and Israel.
The situation for Jesus in the Gospel was even more bleak. He foresaw a second flattening of Jerusalem. He foresaw his own shameful execution, but he was just as certain of the great outpouring of the Father’s graces on his followers after his resurrection.
In Jerusalem as the crowds gathered in to celebrate the Passover all the talk was about Jesus and about rumors that his enemies were preparing to do away with him. It had all the people asking, “What do you think? Will he come to the feast anyway?" To that i add, "Would he trust his existence to God’s Providence?" He would.
When I am faced with bleak outcomes I think about a day I was whisked over icy mountain roads in Korea. Father Leo Clarke was the worst driver I’ve ever known. He was sending Korean army trucks careening into the ditches, and he was singing our way around blind corners. My fear was like death itself, and I was looking for an escape. What I did, was I started talking to myself. I said, “If we fly off the next high drop, as seems likely, I’ll either wake up in a hospital or in Purgatory. I can manage either. I’m in the state of grace. Yes. God will help me accept what ever is coming.”
With that I had my one and only true religious moment. I found myself relaxing in God’s care.

We should try to share in Our Lord's feelings at being hated.

Friday, 3/30/12
In the Gospel people took up rocks, throwing them at Jesus. Some of them might have hit him. In the first reading Jeremiah received similar treatment. He heard people shouting, “Denounce him! Let us denounce him.”
We should not just rush past descriptions of how Jesus and Jeremiah stood up to abuse. For myself, it helps to remember times I have suffered attacks.
Once a young man and I were passing by a country road in Florida when I recalled that a Korean lady living down that road had asked me to stop by sometime. The young fellow and I got out of the car. Then, when I inquired about the lady’s house, some guys, taking us for men with evil intent, began punching us. It felt so strange. The unexpected insult more than the blows hurt the young man and me.
Let me tell another sad story. I had been judged guilty of a driving misdemeanor in Georgia. A clerk mistakenly entered it as a felony; then a year later another clerk, coming across it, alerted the police that I was an escaped felon. Coming in from golf one day I was met by two policemen who handcuffed and jailed me. I was lined up with twenty other prisoners brought in that day; and the sergeant, saying I looked good for my age, asked the other prisoners if they thought I was still capable of anything. The next afternoon the clerical mistake was uncovered, and I was saved from being transported to Georgia. The misdemeanor charge was also dropped.
That night and day in jail involved a series of unpleasant incidents; but on the whole I was happy to have been given a very small sample of what Jesus suffered for us. 

Abraham is our father in faith.

Thursday, 3/29/12
We might take a look at Abraham and where he came from. Between 4000 and 2000 B. C. the great Arabian Peninsula was home to pockets of peoples, who although they had similar languages and gods, still thought of themselves as enemies. People raised on the Bible chose to identify all those Arabian clans as descendents of Noah’s son Shem. That led to their calling them Semites, or Semitic peoples.
To the north of the Arabian Peninsula between 4000 and 2000 B.C. there was a quite different race of people of whose origins we have no solid theory. Those people, called Sumerians, had built dikes in Mesopotamia for taming the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Along with flourishing agriculture they had cuneiform writing, mathematics and brick and pottery making.
Between 3000 and 2000 B.C. droughts in the Arabian Peninsula drove one group after another up into Mesopotamia where they worked as field hands for the Sumerians. These groups became known to us as Akadians, Babylonians, Hebrews, Canaanites, Assyrians.
In 2300 B.C. one of those Semites, Sargon I, established a Semitic kingdom around Babylon. He established his daughter as high priestess to the god of the moon at a temple at Ur in what is now southwestern Iraq.
The story of Abraham opens three hundred years later. We find it at the end of Chapter 11 of Genesis. A man named Terah had a large family. Its members had names that came from the family of their moon god. Abram was the moon god’s father, Sarai his wife, and Milcah their girl child.
Abram’s father Terah decided on looking for grazing land two hundred miles north on the Euphrates. It was there that Abram received a message from God, telling him to  take his wife, family and herds to the land of Canaan. Arrived there, in today’s reading, Abram was told to dissociate himself from worship of the moon god by changing his name from Abram to Abraham (meaning the father of many peoples) He was told to change Sarai’s name to Sarah. 

God teaches us truths in the Book of Daniel, even though the story, written four hundred years after the events described is mostly fiction.

Wednesday, 3/28/12
Jesus said, “You will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
St. John had something else about Jesus and the truth in Chapter One of his Gospel. There he said, “The law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”
God’s sacred truths are taught indirectly in our first reading for today, in the Book of the Prophet Daniel.
Although the Book of Daniel seems to give the account of events from the later years of Nebuchadnezzar who ruled in Babylon from 605 to 562 B.C., in fact the details in the Bible’s story about Nebuchadnezzar do not match what we know from history.
Language experts who closely examine ancient texts are a hundred percent in agreement that this book was composed between 167 and 164 B.C. at a time when the Jews were being persecuted by the Syrian king Antiochus !V.
That Antiochus IV after robbing the temple of its gold tried excusing his action by saying he only wanted to modernize the Jews. He mounted a golden statue of Zeus  on the altar, and he opened youth gymnasiums where he fed the young men  non-kosher food.  Those events have strong echoes in this story. The heroic young men would not eat unclean food, and would not bow to the wicked king’s statue.
There are some factual legends behind the book. There was a prophet named Daniel at the time of Nebuchadnezzar, but Bible scholars believe that God inspired a skillful story teller to compose this fiction.
Most of us as kids were made to believe everything in the Bible to be factual. Well, that was wrong. The Bible contains fables and all kinds of literature that are not factual. However, there is solid truth underlying all the stories.
In teaching grade school Bible classes for twenty-four years I was often met with young people who believed respect for the holy book obliged them to take everything as factual. While admiring their good intentions we must lead them to see that in places God uses fictional accounts where he wants us to discern the vital truths by reading between the lines.

Jesus was lifted up so that he could draw all to him.

Tuesday, 3/27/ 12
Three times in his Gospel St. John quoted Jesus as saying something about being lifted up the way Moses lifted up the serpent. The first time was in Chapter Three when Jesus told Nicodemus that when he was lifted up people would come to know he was God. Here in Chapter Eight it is the same, with Jesus saying they would come to know, “that I am.”
In Chapter Twelve it is a little different. There, Jesus said that when he would be lifted up he would draw all men to himself. His saying that makes me ashamed of myself for paying little attention to crucifixes lately.
That shame was doubled for me the other day when I went into the wrong hospital room. It wasn’t the lady I had come to see, but the lady in bed recognized me. After an exchange of remarks about how she knew me, she lifted her glance to the crucifix on the wall past the base of her bed, and she said, “Having Jesus on the cross here makes everything right for me.”
That’s a thing about Catholics: we appreciate Jesus for being on the cross. A dozen or so years ago when St. Vincent’s tried joining Baptist Hospital in one corporation the Baptist side of us erected an immense bare white cross on the top of our building here. Maybe the Baptists don’t have a Jesus, but we do.
In Korea when I subbed as an American military chaplain I had one of their Mass kits for weekends. Since it was an ecumenical kit the little stand-up cross had no figure on it; but the Defiance Department equipped the kit with a little clip-on Jesus for Catholics. With the ability to go either way we had need to burn each other as heretics. 

The Feast f the Annunciation marks history's biggest event.

Monday, 3/25/12
On this March twenty-sixth we celebrate Our Lord’s conception in Mary’s womb. The aspect of the event that struck folk in the Middle Ages was the quiet of it. In an indelicate comparison to most copulation, they sang about the stillness of that moment.
“He came all so still to his mother’s bower as dew in April that falleth on the flower. He came all so still where his mother lay, as dew in April that falleth on the spray.
Mother and maiden, was never none but she. Well may such a maiden God’s mother be.”
I often think of this feast day in 1976. It fell on a Thursday. I was saying weekday Masses in a little chapel in Crescent City, ninety miles south of here. The same eight or nine people showed up on weekdays.
We had a bigger church on Highway 17 for Sunday Mass. The Sunday before, with no ideas for a homily I told the people that the Annunciation should be our biggest feast day. With God taking on human form it was the most eventful happening in history.
My remarks registered with people. After Mass some of them asked me if Thursday, the Feast of the Annunciation were a holyday of obligation. Even during the week  people phoned to ask if the Feast of the Annunciation were a holy day of obligation.
I thought all the inquiries would lead to people packing the chapel On Thursday, but only four people came.
Back then people came to Sunday Mass and Mass on Holy Days of Obligation because missing meant a mortal sin. People didn’t come on Thursday because they didn’t want to look like overly pious people who came when they didn’t have to. 

"Lazarus, come out!"

Sunday, 3/25/12
We should attend to the details in this story, because for the most part, the Gospels are silent about Our Lord’s private life. Here we can glimpse into that private life as we follow the story of his three friends: Lazarus, Martha and Mary.                      
With the temple guard trying to jail them, Jesus and his disciples had fled to safety across the Jordan; but Lazarus, Martha and Mary were such close friends that Jesus and Thomas were willing to risk their lives to be with them in their time of need.
It is good for us to put our imaginations to work in picturing this party’s thirty-mile uphill hike from the Dead Sea Valley. We should form vivid mental pictures of them cooking and sleeping at the side of the road.
There was a Jewish belief that the soul of a dead man hovered around his body for three days after his death. By waiting four days Jesus was making sure that everyone knew that Lazarus was completely dead. Still, he said their friend Lazarus was asleep. Early Christian tombs always marked the place where a beloved was buried as the place where he or she was asleep. It is a thought to strengthen our beliefs.
Our Gospels says that Jesus was perturbed, but what John actually wrote was that Jesus was angry. He was angry with death, but along with that anger, he was sobbing in a very human way.
For all his humanity, Our Lord’s divinity was always there. He was so sure of his ability to call forth the dead man, that he thanked the Father for the miracle before it happened. And, what a miracle! We should picture the tightly wrapped corpse sitting up, and undoing the wrappings enough for him to stand. Isn’t Our Lord’s power magnificent? “Lazarus come out!” 

If we need to change our minds about things it will help if we haven't been too sure of ourselves.

 Saturday, 3/24/12
In the Gospel there is a great division in the way people regarded Jesus. The simple temple guards said, “Never has anyone spoken like this man.” Nicodemus said that Jesus should not be condemned without a hearing. The chief priests and Pharisees brought out solemn proof for rejecting claims for Jesus being the Messiah. (They said it was prophesied that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem, but Jesus was from Galilee. Case closed!)
In these days with all of us split between various shades of Republicans and Democrats none of us should be dead sure that we are right. All of us are victims of the television we watch and the publications we read.
An American diplomat who has been visiting North Korea yearly for thirty years described the way the minds of the people are held fed. He said that every house from morning to night is captive to broadcasts of the government’s views. None of the people has the mental strength to believe anything other than what they are fed.
In some degree we too become slaves to advertising. For the most part the outcome of elections depends on how many millions the parties spend on advertising.
It is healthy for us to recall times when we held views contrary to what we believe now. Such recollections should keep us from being too hard on others.   

Have pity on me, at least you my friends.

Friday, 3/23/12
In the Gospel Jerusalem’s people spoke of Jesus as the “one they are trying to kill.” If those common people knew about the plotting against Jesus, we can be sure that Jesus knew about it. Unfortunately, the Gospels do not let us into the mind and heart of Jesus in those trying times. We know him to have been a highly sensitive man, so  we can be sure that all the hatred wounded him.
We are not let into his thoughts, the Bible, however, makes up for that lack. It lets us listen to Jeremiah venting his hurt when a similar group were plotting his death. We hear Jeremiah speaking for Jesus as well as for himself:
I hear the whisperings of many, terror on every side: “Let us denounce him!” All those who were my friends are on the watch for any misstep of mine. They say, “Perhaps we will be trapped; then we can prevail and take vengeance on him.” 
Even away back then Jesus had us in mind. He was actually appealing to us to stand by him. To each of us he was repeating the words of Job: “Have pity on me, at least you my friends, because the hand of the Lord is on me.”

Moses was quite close to God. That inspired George Herbert to write his poem "Decay" five hundred years ago.

Thursday, 3/22/ 12

In the first reading God gave in to Moses when Moses pleaded for the life of his people. Five hundred years ago the English poet George Herbert spoke of that incident in his poem “Decay.”
Herbert did more that speak of that one incident. He let his imagination run free, and he pictured other Old Testament saints as having private conversations with God. He contrasted their closeness to God with the way people in his time hardly ever thought of God. He said that if they continued neglecting God, giving their hearts over to sin and Satan, God would punish them. Here is his poem: 
Sweet were the days when you didst lodge with Lot, Struggle with Jacob, sit with Gideon, Advise with Abraham, when thy power could not encounter Moses strong complaint and moan: Thy words were then, Let me alone.
One might have sought and found thee presently at some fair oak or bush, or cave or well. Is my Lord this way? No, they would reply: He is to Sinai gone, as we heard tell. List, ye may hear great Aaron’s bell.
But now thou dost thy self immure and close in some one corner of a feeble heart: where yet both Sin and Satan, thy old foes, do pinch and straighten thee, and use much art to gain thy thirds and little part.
I see the world grows old, when as the heat of thy great love once spread, now as in an urn doth closet up it self, and still retreat, cold sin still forcing it, till it return, and calling Justice, all things burn.
George Herbert was a teenager when Shakespeare put his play “Julius Caesar” on at the Globe Theatre. He may have taken the last line of his poem from Mark Anthony’s speech that concluded with Caesar saying he would return from the dead, and, “Crying vengeance, let slip the dogs of war.

Calling on Yahweh we are using the Father's personal name,

Wenesday, 3/21/12
In the Gospel Jesus said, "The Son cannot do anything on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing.” Those words should warn us against being such Jesus freaks that we forget that as a man Jesus is below the Father.
We should absorb the reverence for the Father that we see in the first reading. Isaiah said, the Lord would never forsake us. The lord says, “Even though a mother forsake her child, I will never abandon you.”
Anytime our English version of the Old Testament speaks of the Lord the actual Hebrew word is Yahweh.
Yahweh was the Father’s personal name for himself, and when Isaiah and the other prophets spoke the name Yahweh they uttered it with deep love. We should use the Father’s personal name for himself in singing this hymn, and we should utter his name with real love.
Yahweh, I know you are near,
standing always at my side.
You guard me from the foe,
and you lead me in ways everlasting.

Lord, you have searched my heart,
and you know when I sit and when I stand.
Your hand is upon me protecting me from death,
keeping me from harm.

Where can I run from Your love?
If I climb to the heavens You are there;
If I fly to the sunrise or sail beyond the sea,
still I'd find You there.

Yahweh, I know you are near,
standing always at my side.
You guard me from the foe,
and you lead me in ways everlasting.

Ezekiel's stream is the grace flowing with people leaving church.

Tuesday, 3/20/12
Ezekiel’s vision of the water flowing from the east side of the temple is a metaphor for the graces believers carry with them leaving church.
Ezekiel’s ever-widening, ever deepening, stream flowed down into the Arabah which is a crevice in the earth’s surface at the meeting of two tectonic plates. Called the Great Rift Valley, it runs from the valley of the Jordan, through the Dead Sea, down into the Gulf of Aqaba, the Red Sea and into upper Ethiopia.
Ezekiel gives two wonderful images to represent the good accomplished by grace-filled people going out into the world. The stream of grace flowing with them gives helping hands, healing, and warm friendship which Ezekiel compares to fruit trees bearing fruit all year around.
As well, the stream of grace flowing with people coming out of church brings peace, concord, and mutual understanding which Ezekiel compares to the clear stream's turning the Gulf of Aqaba into fresh water.

We should pray to Joseph for stronger backbones.

Monday, 3/19/12
St. Matthew had a wonderful way of describing St. Joseph. He said he was a just man. When Joseph discovered that his intended was already pregnant, his justice came into play in two ways. First, his justice would not allow him to take for himself the child who seemed to belong to another man. Secondly, his justice would not let him inflict pain on the finest person he had ever known. His only just way out of the predicament seemed to be divorcing her quietly.
A way for us to celebrate the feast of St. Joseph would be for us to call to mind the  fine men we have known who are called Joe.
I have a nephew Joe who leads his brothers and sisters in pitching in for anyone in trouble. He visits a friend in detox. He is the strong friend to one in the family who is shunned for being homosexual.
At tax time I think of Joe Kelly who out of gratitude to his country would not cash tax returns. I think of Father Joseph English our pastor from the nineteen twenties through the forties. On his day off Joe English drove to a classmate’s porch where all day he read, rocked, and chewed apples.
Our given names once gave us patron saints. We found comfort in a connection with our own patron saint. I just checked names from K through 8 in a Catholic school’s yearbook without finding a Joseph. Kids are maybe hoping for help from St. Scott, or maybe St. April or St. Spring.
Two Burmese nuns sat with me last night at a St. Patrick’s Day dinner. One of them, Sister Rose Susie was just back from Burma, and she brought Sister Leonie Marie a letter from Sister Leonie Marie’s father. The homesick girl read it over and over. She said her father’s name is Joseph, and he is just like St. Joseph himself. 
On Joseph’s feast day each of us men should pray, “Dear St. Joseph, give me some of that backbone of yours to help me be a real man when it is called for.” 

Those of us who are spiritually blind are worse off than those who are physically blind.

Sunday, 3/18/12
The point of this Gospel story about the man born blind is that people who are spiritually blind are worse off than people who are physically blind.
People have long remarked on how today’s Gospel story reads like a play. Both the Man Born Blind and his parents offer rich comedy. With the help of a Korean Literature teacher I put this Gospel into a play fifty-five years ago. For it we rented the town’s barn of a theater, and the place was mobbed with people cheering for Jesus and the Man Born Blind.
Again forty years ago, when I was at the parish church for the University of Iowa, I scripted it, and with the help of a music teacher, made a musical out of it. Then here at St. Paul’s we put it on several times, leaving me with great memories of star performers years back.
One year after another the students we had as the Man Born Blind came on singing:
                  Our synagogue and market place are the best that you will find. We have our very own beggar here: me, the Man Born Blind!
The Pharisees strutted in bellowing,
                  Make way, make way for Pharisees, the men who have no flaw. We have a thing for purity, and the letter of the law.
We are spiritually blind like the Pharisees when we can’t see our smallness. We are blind if we never see Christ in his needy ones. We are blind if we don’t see the deadline for our lives coming at us. That blindness has us wasting our days.

On St. Patrick's Day we thank God for Patrick's great sons and daughters.

Saturday, 3/17/12
This is the feast of St. Patrick. Instead of reviving some distant facts about the saint, we might do well to express appreciation for what his Irish Church has done for us. We might start with what the Church has done to Ireland. Back in 1170 Pope Alexander III gave Ireland to England’s Henry II, the man responsible for the death of St. Thomas a Becket.
Then, from the time that England set up its own church in 1540, all citizens of England and Ireland were bound by law to attend Anglican services. Up until 1812 Irish Catholics paid fines for missing the services of the Anglican Church.
Between 1845 and 1849 between deaths and emigration Ireland lost two million to the potato famine. Initially England’s prime minister had boatloads of American yellow corn unloaded at Irish ports, but the Irish had no way of grinding it into flour. Peel’s successor Charles Trevelyan said the potato famine was “the judgement of God sent to teach the Irish a lesson.” My great-great grandparents who fled the famine went on across the Mississippi to Louisiana Purchase territory that was open to Catholics.
The hard times gave growth to fine Irish people and priests. In my twenty-five years with the Columban Fathers I dealt with some truly great men. The same is true of my experience here with people like Monsignor Pat Madden, along with some men who are still with us. And as for the Irish nuns, what inspiring delights they have been! 

A different kind of Irish story just popped into my mind. Twenty years ago a Miss Sullivan, a former parishioner of St. Paul's Jacksonville was finding great spiritual help in the book This Tremendous Lover by the irish Trappist priest Dom Eugene Boylan. Not so sure if it were the proper thing to do, she sought out his monastery in Ireland, asking the Brother porter if she could have a few minutes with the spiritual giant. "Yes, Ma'am, just wait here." She waited, and the man who then came in struck her as being quite ugly. That was just her first surprise. The real surprise came when Dom Eugene, pointing a bony finger at her, said, "I danced with you once in Dublin!"      

We show our love for God by loving our neighbor.

Friday, 3/16/12
Let me say a word about each of the readings. The first reading is from the Book of Hosea the Prophet. You know the story: Hosea had a wife named Gomer who deserted him for men who gave her presents.Hosea wrote, assuring Gomer that he still loves her, and he would take her back when she was desperate and lonely. God used the betrayal of Gomer as a mirror of Israel’s betrayal of him. He used Hosea’s words to call back Israel, and to call us back.
In the Gospel where a scribe asked Jesus what was the greatest commandment Jesus answered that there were two: that we should love God, then love our neighbor. The scribe, admiring Our Lord’s answer, repeated it. However, in repeating it the scribe linked together the two commands: that of loving God, and that of loving or neighbor. 
Jesus was satisfied that the scribe had linked the two commandments. Someone had finally got the point: we show love for God by loving our neighbor. With that Jesus saw no need to continue teaching.

Isaiah spoke of his love for God, calling him by his personal name of Yahweh.

Thursday, 3/14/12
In the first reading Isaiah spoke five times about the Lord. We know that in the original Hebrew the word we translate as Lord was Yahweh, God’s mysterious, personal name that means He Who Is. Isaiah’s message is summed up in our Christian hymns “Yahweh, I know you are near.”
Yahweh, I know you are near,
standing always at my side.
You guard me from the foe,
and you lead me in ways everlasting.

Lord, you have searched my heart,
and you know when I sit and when I stand.
Your hand is upon me protecting me from death,
keeping me from harm.


Where can I run from Your love?
If I climb to the heavens You are there;
If I fly to the sunrise or sail beyond the sea,
still I'd find You there.


"Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor."

Wednesday, 3/14/12
The words of Jesus that we find in today’s Gospel are not found elsewhere. That is because Matthew was the only one who wrote in reply to a particular attack of the Pharisees. Their attack on Our Lord’s reputation came forty years after his death and resurrection. They began to say Jesus had been an enemy of the sacred laws of the Old Testament.
In denying that in today’s Gospel Matthew quoted Jesus as saying, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or Prophets. I have come not to abolish but fulfill.” Then Matthew went on for page after page of his Gospel pointing out that all of Our Lord’s actions had been foretold by the prophets. He had not destroyed the Law and the Prophets, he fulfilled them.
The attacks of the Pharisees on Our Lord’s reputation make us think of all the character attacks in today’s political battles. None of the political infighters seem to remember the Commandment that says, “Thou shall not bring false witness against thy neighbor.” Not only can they get away with it, they are paid big money for making up convincing packages of slander.

We take part in their sin when we pass along such slander.    

Our Eucharistic prayers grew out of the proper Hebrew grace at meals.

Tuesday. 3/13/12
With the readings providing us with no fresh thoughts, let’s turn to a question about the Catholic Mass: How did all its prayers come about? 
We know that at the Last Supper, after Jesus had said the blessing he took up the bread, and next the chalice, saying, “This is my body,” and “This is the cup of my blood;” then he said, “Do this in memory of me.”
Those were meager instructions. How did the Apostles develop them into the full ritual of the Mass?
The answer to that is in words from the Last Supper that we just slip over. Namely, the words “After Jesus had said the blessing.”
That was not just three or four little blessing words. In the Gospel accounts and in St. Paul’s account of the Last Supper the word they used for “Blessing” was eucharistesas. That was their Greek word for what in Hebrew they called the Brakha.
The Brakha was a setl ritual that had three parts. It began with a Calling to Mind part when the host asked the diners to call to mind God’s blessings. That was followed by the Calling Down part when the host begged God to send down his Spirit on the diners. It concluded with the Pleasing Gift part. in it all present strove to make themselves into pleasing gifts  to God. Their word for Pleasing Gift was Eu-charis.
In the Mass the Eucharist is not only Jesus. It is also all us diners. United with Jesus we strive to turn ourselves into Pleasing Gifts to God.