LaVerdiere, Eugene. "Chapter Five: For the Forgiveness of Sins: The Eucharist in Matthew's Gospel." The Eucharist in the New Testament and the Early Church. Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press (Pueblo), 1996, 65-78.
LaVerdiere dates the composition of Matthew at about 85 A.D., and considers Mark to be a strong influence on it (LaVerdiere 1996, 65). An emphasis on forgiveness of sins, one of the historic hallmarks of Christianity, is closely related to the eucharist in Matthew's Gospel. LaVerdiere considers the forgiveness of sins to be central to Matthew's Gospel, not only in the account of the Last Supper, but in other places as well, such as the Sermon on the Mount and the Lord's Prayer, and in Matthew 18 which speaks of reconciliation (LaVerdiere 1996, 66).
At first glance, LaVerdiere finds Matthew's view of the eucharist to be similar to Mark's (LaVerdiere 1996, 68). The diferences are normally related to the mix in the community of those from a Jewish and those from a Gentile background. LaVerdiere sees this as a growing challenge after the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. At that time, it became more important to many that they maitain a distinctive Jewish identity (LaVerdiere 1996, 69).
The miraculous feeding of thousands in Matthew suggests the eucharist. While in Mark the events are placed in close relation to the mission of the disciples, in Matthew they are more closely related to the life of the community as a whole (LaVerdiere 1996, 70). Jesus is seen as the one who provides bread for his assembled people. Breaking of bread is also associated with healing the sick, a show of present forgiveness, in Matthew (LaVerdiere 1996, 71).
LaVerdiere observes that in Matthew's telling of the feeding of thousands, distribution of fish is absent. He takes this to indicate reference to a symbolic meal rather than a full meal, which would likely include bread and fish (LaVerdiere 1996, 72). This suggests to him a later date, by which time the meal and the eucharistic ritual were separated.
In the Last Supper narrative, LaVerdiere notes that Jesus is not only more explicit about the disicples taking the bread so as to eat it, but also that Jesus particularly sas the cup is for forgiveness (LaVerdiere 1996, 75). Forgiveness remains central to Matthew's message, and this is a eucharistic theme.