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Saint Matthew
Catholic Church

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Ceres, CA 95307
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The Holy Qurbana

Author: H.E. Bishop Bawai Soro


"This is my body. … this is my blood of the covenant."

Matthew 26:26-27
Holy Qurbana

As members of the Church, we hold the gift of Jesus in the Holy Qurbana to be the most central act of prayer and worship that we know.

The very young are brought to the liturgy of the Qurbana before they can understand its meaning. The very old find comfort and meaning in their lives by deepening their spirituality at the wellspring of the Lord's banquet. From life's beginning to its end and all times in between, believers of all ages and walks of life take part in the very sacrifice of Jesus.

The mission of Jesus, as the early Church came to understand it, was to bring forgiveness of sins to God's people, in order that they might receive salvation and, one day, eternal life in his kingdom of light, happiness, and peace. Throughout his life and ministry Jesus brought that forgiveness, forging anew the relationship between sinners and God in a new, powerful way.

Jesus likened himself to a physician who heals the sick, not those who are well; he often said that he came for sinners, not for the self-righteous (Luke 5:31-32). He taught his followers to call God "Abba" – Father – as he himself did (Luke 11:2-4). He taught them a new way of living in the Sermon on the Mount (see Matthew 5) and a new way of loving, even one's enemies: a new commandment of love (Luke 6:27-28, John 13:34-35).

All that Jesus did in his life leads him toward Jerusalem, toward the Cross. Every person he touched, every word he spoke, every prayer to the Father, every disease he cured, every sin he forgave: all these showed who Jesus is and what he came among us to do. And it all leads toward his passion, death, and resurrection. It all leads to the Holy Qurbana.

The word "Qurbana" itself comes from the Aramaic word meaning basically "to offer". In the Qurbana we celebrate the life, passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Through the Qurbana – which means the liturgy, the act of celebration, the banquet, as well as the species of the body and blood of Christ – we praise and thank the Father for the salvific acts of Jesus, and we are drawn further into the divine life of God.

It is important to understand the relationship between the gift of his body and blood that Jesus gave at the Last Supper and the outpouring of his life on the Cross. Theologically they are one and the same. Jesus who allowed his body to be broken and who poured out his blood on the Cross for the forgiveness of sins has made the Qurbana central to the life of the Christian people. The Qurbana is, to use ecumenical language, the re-presentation of the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross in an un-bloody manner (Jesus died once and only once on the Cross; he has risen from the dead never to die again). At the liturgy, when we partake in the celebration and then receive the body and blood of Christ, the Last Supper and the Cross are made present to us again, so that we take part in those core acts of salvation, with Jesus, personally.

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