Paul’s epistle was written maybe fifteen years before the first gospel was written. He passes on the reality (“this is my body...my blood...”) and the command (“Do this in remembrance of me”), the words he received in a revelation
from the Risen Jesus himself (as Paul tells us) – and probably from the apostles as well. In any event, he is “passing on” the now-solid tradition as he himself received it.
St. Paul must have really been frustrated with his Corinthian friends. We find him either praising them, or pointing out their serious faults that need correction. So it is important that we see today’s reading in its proper framework..
Many of the Corinthians were a stuck-up bunch of people as the saying goes referring to the vicious sin of pride. Their culture (and ours?) always had a separation between the rich and the poor. But Jesus came to save all humanity, to unite us all under the one banner of Christian love. This has not yet happened in Corinth; self-love was preventing true Christian love from emerging.
The new Christians were still separating into a class structure at their liturgical gatherings. (Remember that in those days the Eucharist was preceded by a full meal, and the rich would feed lavishly, sitting apart from the poor.)
In that appropriate setting, Paul reminds them that it was “on the night he was betrayed” that Jesus set up this great Sacrament of his Body and Blood. The not-so-subtle suggestion Paul’s making is that now the Corinthians are betraying Jesus again, by not uniting in brotherly love. The message he’s making to the “stuck up” ones can’t be missed: Jesus died to save them from their lack of love, and now it’s up to them to live out the love-command. To do otherwise is to “bring judgment” on themselves (1 Cor 11:27, 29).
Article 1385 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that if we wish to respond to the invitation of Jesus to “take and eat,” we must prepare ourselves for so great and holy a moment by a good examination of conscience. As St Paul says, “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.
Articles 11393 and 1395 also deal with this point Paul is making.