Our family started the Seder meal study a week ago because it celebrates the “peshah,” an Aramaic word meaning left behind. Peshah may be better known by many as the Passover. The …
Our family started the Seder meal study a week ago because it celebrates the “peshah,” an Aramaic word meaning left behind. Peshah may be better known by many as the Passover. The Israelites celebrated the first Passover meal in Egypt, the night before the Pharaoh finally released them out of slavery.
If you remember, the Lord instructed Moses to have all the Israelites put the blood of a sacrificed lamb on their doorposts so the angel of death would pass (peshah) over their homes while the Pharaoh claimed the lives of every firstborn in Egypt. Thus, the Lord instructed Moses and the Israelites to celebrate the feast of the Passover annually so that they may never forget how God redeemed them from slavery and brought them back to the land of milk and honey, the promised land.
The Seder meal is a beautiful celebration that encompasses “haggadah,” another Aramaic word meaning story telling which recalls the Israelites exodus from Egypt. The meal begins with lighting of the candles and praying “baruch atah Adonai …,” which means, “blessed are you the one and only God …”
Once the candles are lit and the prayer recited, then comes the blessing over the first of the four cups of wine: “Blessed are you, O Lord our God, king of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.” At that time, the guests drink the first cup of wine representing sanctification.
The dinner continues with ceremonial hand washing and praying before eating of the bitter herbs dipped in salt water. The bitter herbs are a reminder of the bitterness of enslavement in Egypt and the salt is the reminder of the tears shed in Egypt.
Then the haggadah begins and the story of the exodus is recited. Next, a blessing is prayed over the second cup of wine, representing judgment, before the breaking and eating of the unleavened bread.
After eating part of the unleavened bread dipped in charoset salad (made of apples, honey, cinnamon and nuts), a prayer is recited followed by drinking a third cup of wine, representing redemption. The last and fourth cup of wine represents praise.
The Seder meal celebration is filled with rich traditions of thankful praying and praising God for deliverance from slavery. The four cups of wine represent the four promises of God in Exodus 6:6-7: “I will bring you out of Egypt, I will deliver you from slavery, I will redeem you with outstretched arm, and I will take you to me for a people.”
As Christians, we still celebrate the Seder meal because the Last Supper was Christ’s celebration of the Seder meal, where he instituted the holy Eucharist. Christ is the new and everlasting covenant and the paschal lamb that saves us from the slavery of sin and death. To this day we celebrate the paschal mystery at every Mass and the same prayers recited at the Seder meal are recited at Mass.
At Mass, when the priest holds the chalice at the altar, he recites the prayer: “Blessed are you Lord, King of the universe. Through your goodness we have this wine to offer. Fruit of the vine and work of human hands. It will become our spiritual drink.”
As Christ said in Matthew 5:17, “Don’t think that I came to abolish the law or the prophets. I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.”
The institution of the holy Eucharist at the Last Supper fulfills the prophecies of the saving messiah and fulfills the laws of God. Through his death and resurrection, Christ with his outstretched arms frees us from the slavery of sin — and by consuming the holy Eucharist, we become his own people.
My family has really enjoyed studying the Seder meal because it has been a good review of the book of Exodus and it’s been a great reminder to thank God for all his gifts. At times we forget to thank our Lord and say a simple blessing before and after meals, but studying the Seder meal, we see that praise and thanksgiving to God are offered throughout the meal.
During holidays, we may be stressed, feel anxious, feel lonesome or unworthy, but Christ’s last Seder meal or Last Supper reminds us how precious we are in the sight of God. He is our heavenly father who, through the outstretched arms of his son on the cross, redeemed us from sin and defeated death.
Offer all your stress, worries and anxieties to him who has known you before you were born and loves you still unconditionally and pray this simple prayer: “Oh Jesus I surrender myself to you, take care of everything.” This Easter season, let us surrender ourselves to God and give him thanks for the blessings he bestows on us.
(Autourina Mains is a cradle Catholic who was born and raised in the Middle East. She is an Assyrian and speaks the ancient Aramaic language, which was used to write the first five books of the Bible.)