9 April 2020: Holy Thursday

The establishment of THE MOST HOLY EUCHARIST

If anybody asks you the question: Why are you a Christian? Or in other words, What is the basic belief that makes you remain a Christian? What would be your answer?  I will say, the best answer is: “Because of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.”  Without belief in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ there is no Christianity.  If again asked “Why are you a Catholic?”  Again the best answer I will give: “Because of the Eucharist.”  Yes, the Eucharist is essential to Catholic belief and fundamental to Catholic life.

Today we celebrate the first celebration of the Holy Eucharist, the most Precious Body and Blood of Christ, by Jesus himself.  As today we are separated and isolated with physical and social distance because of the pandemic of coronavirus, there is one thing that brings us closer together, and that is our love of God and love of neighbor.  In one word I would say today is the day of love and we celebrate that love.

  • It was today Jesus gave us the commandment of love, “Love one another as I have loved you.”
  • It was today Jesus gave us the great example that there is no love without service by washing the feet of his disciples.
  • It was today Jesus established the sacrament of love, the Eucharist.

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.  Just as I loved you, you also should love one another.” (Jn. 13:34)  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and asked them to wash one another’s feet. What else can be a better example of service and humility.  We remember the words of Jesus who said “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28

  1. We use various names to refer to this mystery of the Eucharist and each word emphasizes different aspects of this great mystery: “The Eucharist,” the Greek word meaning “thanksgiving,” because Jesus offered Himself to God the Father as an act of thanksgiving. Every Sunday we get together to thank God for all the gifts He gives to us. 2) “The Lord’s Supper” or “Breaking of the Bread” – because we celebrate it as a meal commemorating the Last supper of the Lord. 3) “Holy Communion”  because, we become one with Christ by receiving Him. 4) “Holy Mass” (holy sending), because it gives us a mission: “go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life”. 5) “Viaticum,” the word meaning “the food for journey” when the Eucharist is received for the last time before death, because it becomes a food for that person’s final journey from this life to the new life in Christ. At every time we receive the Eucharist it is a viaticum, a food for our day today journey.
  2. Eucharist is a real sacrifice, instituted by Christ at the Last Supper. It represents Christ’s sacrifice of the Cross. Eucharist is also a sacrament of the real presence of the risen Christ among us.   Jesus has promised us that he would be with us until the end of the world and his presence is seen everywhere in the renewed universe.   He is present in the Holy Bible, in the word of God.   He is present in each one of us and again he is present when two or more people gather in his name, in our families and in our church community.    All the more, he is present sacramentally in the bread and wine which turns into His body and blood.
  3. The Eucharist is the highest expression of prayer and the summit of worship. A most special moment of Eucharistic Adoration for all of us is when we receive Jesus in Holy Communion.   We read in the Gospel of John, Jesus saying, “he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in him.” (John 6:56)   There are no words to describe those most precious moments when we return to our seat after receiving the holy communion to spend quiet moments with Jesus.   We are one with Jesus and he is one with us. It is a moment of intimacy with Jesus, when we and Jesus are “all wrapped up in each other.”
  4. The sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is the most profound expression of God’s love for His people.   God’s desire on His part for mutual love and self-giving is the essence of the Eucharist.   As a sacrament of Love, it is necessarily a sacrament of union: our union with the Lord and our union with one another.   All love demands union; the more ardent the love, the more complete the union it seeks.
  5. We all believe that what we receive in the Eucharist is the transformed risen body of Christ.   But this transformation will be meaningful only if it makes a transformation in our lives.
  6. In today’s 2nd reading, we heard the words of establishment of the Eucharist: the Lord Jesus “took bread,” and “gave thanks,” “blessed it,” “broke it,” “and gave it,” “and they ate” the bread.   This is what we do in every celebration of the Eucharist.   As we participate in this celebration and as we receive the Eucharist, we ourselves have to become a Eucharist to one another.   So today as we celebrate the Eucharist, as Jesus took the bread in his hands, gave thanks to the Father, blessed it, broke it and gave to the disciples, let us offer our lives to God with thanksgiving and ask the Lord to bless it.   Let us offer ourselves and what we have and God will give everything in abundance especially the real life in Jesus.   Then let us break ourselves and give to others, our life, our time, treasure and talents so that we ourselves become the Eucharist to our brothers and sisters.  Let us remember and live the commandment to “Love one another as I have loved you,” and His invitation to serve one another.

I thank you in a very special way Fr. Clyde, our dear associate, all the extra-ordinary Eucharistic ministers, lectors, altar servers, ushers, music ministers, members of all the ministries, and the members of the staff of Holy Faith Parish.   I remember you all in my daily Holy Mass and other prayers.

I wish you, all the parishioners of Holy Faith Parish, a Most Blessed TRIDUUM.

May God bless you!

(Homily by Fr. Emmanuel, Pastor of Holy Faith Church, Gainesville)