- THE FIRST EUCHARISTIC BANQUET
- WHAT IT MEANS TODAY?
When Jesus entered the Upper Room to eat the Passover Meal with His disciples, it would become the night that changed the world. When Jesus broke the bread and shared the wine saying to his Disciples "This is my Body, this is my Blood. Do this in memory of Me" it would become the greatest of Gifts, the Gifts of His Body and Blood. The Gift of Himself. The Apostles realized this fact the very next morning, when they saw their Teacher stretched out on the cross. His Body and Blood given to us for our salvation …
St. Paul was probably one of the first to understand also that Jesus was really present in the Eucharist. Saint Paul saw clearly that when we share in the Body and Blood of Christ and when the words "This is my Body” are said as they are every day throughout this world, in every country, in every parish, in every time and place, we become indeed one bread - one body, the Body of Christ – because He gave us this commandment "Do this in memory of Me".
One converted theologian said: "You become what you eat." When you eat the Body of Christ you become the Body of Christ. He is transforming you into Himself.
But, do we really understand and appreciate what this means as we come up to receive the Holy Communion? Do we understand or believe that this is Jesus Christ Himself in His Body and Blood, the Creator and the King of the Universe through Whom everything was made?
Do we really understand what is happening as many of us shuffle up disengaged? It sure doesn’t look like we really understand as we trudge up quietly as if receiving a handout in a bread line then trudge back to our seats perhaps even looking at our watches. I have done that and am ashamed I ever have.
The Angel of Peace appeared before the Children of Fatima holding a chalice in his hands, above which was suspended a Host from which drops of Blood were falling into the chalice. The Angel left the chalice suspended in the air and prostrated Himself before it in prayer. If an Angel can do this … why am I so bling and not able to see the Hidden Reality of the Lord present in the Eucharistic species?
It doesn’t mean we have to fling ourselves to the ground but perhaps we can prostrate ourselves internally as we receive the Holy Communion. Pope John Paul II stated that we “need to cultivate a lively awareness of Christ’s real presence.”
Something very mystical and awe inspiring happens when we receive the Eucharist. Sadly so many don’t understand or believe this.
When Jesus becomes present in the Eucharist He is not alone- He brings Heaven with him. I love the imagery of what St. Padre Pio said about the events of the Eucharist. He said it was “Paradise” and “Our Lady is present at every Mass, along with all the angels and the “whole celestial court.” I must admit I envy these Saints, and I suspect most of our Saints, St. Faustina, St. Therese, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Joan of Arc, St. Francis, St. Padre Pio each have experienced Eucharist this way. We can too. The evidence has always been there.
There is only one Mass, one Eternal Mass, and only one Liturgy of the Eucharist that is taking place in Heaven all the time, or rather out of time, because Heaven is timeless. So we do not merely attend Mass, nor do we go back in time 2 000 years, but we join with all of heaven and earth in celebrating that one eternal liturgy. Remember what priests proclaim “Now, let us join the choirs of angels as they sing their unending Hymn of praise.”
Think of it at every moment priests and believers throughout the world on every hour celebrate Mass all over the world. We are not alone ... ever …. One writer has said that “we go to Heaven when we attend Mass”.
So, good music or bad music, good homilies or bad, good pronunciation or bad - it doesn't matter. The Eternal Mass matters – as it is always Heaven on Earth joined together when priest celebrate the Holy Eucharist.
What we are experiencing during this time is not our Mass, not our offering, is not a spectacle, not a ceremony, not a common meal … it's rather the moment when the priest is opening to us the gate to Heaven, so that we can participate in this ONE, ETERNAL SACRIFICE of Jesus Christ.
When the priest lifts the Sacred Host in front of you, pause a moment- see into the Host to feel the whole magnificent presence of Jesus and the Trinity, the Angels and Communion of Saints and feel how jubilant they are to join with you in this always present Eternal Banquet, the eternal Sacrifice of Christ.
Jesus didn't say: "Whoever studies the Bible will have eternal life." He didn't say "Pray 7 times per day and you will inherit the Kingdom of God". But He certainly said: "Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood has eternal life, and I shall raise that person up on the last day."
Eucharist is truly the center, the summit and the source of our life.
This is what Jesus instituted during the Last Supper, this is why He gave us the commandment: "Do this in memory of Me."