We gather in this Upper Room to commemorate the commingling of the ritual of the Mass with the sacrifice of Calvary: the offering of Christ’s Body to the Father. And in this sacred mystery, we commemorate the vehicle through which this sacrifice is offered, the priesthood of the Apostles.
Christ willed that his sacrifice be continually present as a sign of authentic Christian unity. The Eucharist is one and the same time Christ’s sacrifice and the Church’s sacrifice, because in it Christ unites the Church with his redemptive work and invites the Church to share in his suffering.
It is important then that we, who share the one bread and the one-cup, assume a personal attitude of offering. We cannot come to just listen and watch, we need to engage the mystery, to make Christ’s suffering our own, sacrificing our pain, our difficulties, our trials- our whole humanity with him and in him so as to commingle our gift with the gift Christ makes of Himself.
By entering the ritual sacrifice of this night, we share in the victory won by Him over evil in the world. When the words of consecration are uttered and the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ become present in this ritual act, love triumphs over hatred, holiness succeeds over sin, selfless joy conquers selfish pleasure.
The Eucharistic celebration is stronger than all the evil in the universe because Christ offers himself freely as gift to His Father. This night too, Jesus becomes the servant washer, as an example to his apostles of servant leadership and how they will sacrifice their bodies for the love of God. In this way the Eucharist becomes for us an act of freedom and communion with the Father and with the Church.
When we join this moment of grace, the breaking of bread and the washing of the Twelve become how we define our freedom and how we live our communion. For if we do not allow the Eucharist to transform our lives, we surrender to a state of bondage and alienation risking the loss of our souls and the souls of others.
The love of Christ in this Sacrament enlarges our capacity to love and moves us to more sincere and credible acts of charity-because it is Christ living within us! In the Eucharist made present here on our Altar through the hands of the priest, Christ comes to finish the work His Father gave him. He establishes the sacrificial priesthood in the Twelve that our souls might be filled with the same Charity, which led him to die for us on the Cross.
Jesus comes to live in our hearts and to lead us to the one end toward which we struggle every day: the love of God and the love of our neighbors in God. If we will but respond to His love, if we will but let this divine sacrament purify our hearts of all attachments to worldly things, Christ will make us stronger and more determined to love him. He will teach us through the ministry of the Apostle, to understand not only his love for us, but also his love of our neighbor. He will teach us to see into the depths of our brother’s heart, through the humility and compassion of each priest who opens his heart to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
As Christ came to overcome evil with good, so we too, nourished by this sacrament, will learn in our reception, that the charity of Christ is strong enough to reach out and embrace even our enemies, strong enough to conquer them, turning them from enemies into friends.
Yes, we celebrate the ritual Sacrifice of Calvary and the Washing of the Twelve because he has “given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should do also.”