The Eucharist Foretold
The Lost Prophecy of Malachi
By Mike Aquilina
Emmaus Road, 2019
154 pages, $20.95
To order: amazon.com
Catholicism can be defended in one line: “For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is great among the nations, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering: for my name is great among nations, says the Lord of hosts” (Malachi 1:11).
It is a statement that Christians of the early Church rallied around as proof that their faith was worth dying for. It is the prophecy of Malachi, lost and forgotten by many, despite being recalled at Masses all over the world in the Third Eucharistic Prayer: “…You never cease to gather a people to yourself, so that from the rising of the sun to its setting, a pure sacrifice may be offered to your name.”
Most Catholics don’t recognize that Scripture verse as a cornerstone of Catholic apologetics. And many do not even recognize the Eucharist as the perfect sacrifice — Jesus. So in this age of catechetical amnesia, Mike Aquilina gives us a refresher course in The Eucharist Foretold: The Lost Prophecy of Malachi. Aquilina is the executive vice president of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, a Roman Catholic research center based in Steubenville, Ohio, and an author and speaker who focuses in his work on Church history, especially the early Church Fathers.
Aqulina sets the stage for his book with a bit of geography, following the sun from its new day in Kiribati, an island chain near the International Dateline, and around the globe to its setting in French Polynesia, where, now, it’s tomorrow in Kiribati. The global circle demonstrates what Malachi was talking about, that there would be a sacrifice offered throughout the world. “Whenever the early Christians talked about the Mass, that prophecy from Malachi was sure to come up,” Aquilina writes. “The Mass, they believed, was its obvious fulfillment.”
Aquilina explains that the truth of the Eucharist, recorded in Scripture as the Body and Blood of Christ, has been taught from the beginning of Christianity. In fact, when the Catechism of the Catholic Church was put together during the 1990s, the words of St. Justin Martyr from the year A.D. 150 were used verbatim. “… And among us this food is called the Eucharist. … For we do not receive these as ordinary bread and ordinary drink. But in the same way Jesus Christ our Savior, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise we have been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh.”
As recent surveys reveal, this definition of the Eucharist for which Christians were once martyred is being increasingly forgotten and rejected. So at such a time as this, Aquilina reminds readers that it is a teaching, supported by the passage from Malachi, on which all of Christianity hinges. He recalls the time of early Christianity, born of Judaism. “Salvation has come to the nations, but there has also been a parting of the ways between Judaism and Christianity,” he says. “And Christians of the day were certain that Malachi had seen it all centuries before it happened.”
Going back further to Old Testament times, readers learn what sacrifices represented for the Jewish people and why the shedding of blood was so important throughout the ancient world. Regardless of the different kinds of sacrifices, Aquilina explains that the one thing they all had in common was “the idea that we give God what’s most valuable to us.”
But Malachi was concerned about the sacrifices in the temple and the priests not taking them seriously — even showing contempt. “And then in his prophetic vision, Malachi sees the perfect sacrifice — a pure sacrifice offered all over the world in every place and time,” Aquilina writes.
The author notes that not only did Malachi prophesize about a perfect sacrifice being offered around the world, but other prophets in the Old Testament announced that salvation would come to all people. Jesus, too, referred to these predictions to the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4:19-26: Referring to himself as the one the prophets spoke of, Jesus said, “I who speak to you am he.”
The true identity of Jesus and the identity of the Eucharist is the fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy, according to Aquilina. And this fulfillment became the very point of separation between Christians and Jews, who have responded in distinctly different ways to the question of “whether the messianic age is now or yet to come.”
The Eucharist Foretold demonstrates that the fulfillment is now. Aquilina confirms that Christian worship was part of God’s plan all along: “Malachi is the proof that the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament are the same God.”
Patti Armstrong writes from North Dakota.