YEAR A: HOMILY FOR HOLY THURSDAY (2)

YEAR A: HOMILY FOR HOLY THURSDAY

HOMILY THEME: “I Am With You Always!”

BY: Fr. Mike Lagrimas

 

HOMILY: Jn 13:1-15

“It would be easier for the world to survive without the sun than to do without Holy Mass.” This statement may sound extremely unrealistic, but it came from St. Padre Pio de Pietrelcina.

Definitely, he is just stating a truth that he discovered through his profound intimacy with the Lord in the Eucharist. For the world to survive, the Holy Mass is essential and infinitely more valuable than the sun or anything else. Today, as we celebrate the Feast of the Institution of the Eucharist by Jesus at the Last Supper, let me share with you a story that illustrates this truth.

This comes from Fr. Robert de Grandis, SSJ, a well-known author and speaker in America. In one of his books, he wrote: “NASA, the American Space Agency, did some experimenting with a special type of camera that could see the energy levels in the human body. This is then seen on a monitor. This energy shows up as an aura around the body. NASA’s interest in the experiment was to investigate the effects of space travel on astronauts in orbit. Experimenting in a hospital, they discovered that when a person is dying, the aura (I think this is energy) around the body is thinner and it gets thinner and thinner until the person dies. The scientist carrying out this investigation in the hospital and his associate were behind a two-way mirror. They could see with their camera another man coming into the room with light coming from his pocket. Then the man took the object from his pocket and did something so that in the camera the whole room was filled with light and with their camera they could no longer see what was happening. They ran to the room to see what was causing so much light to appear in their camera. They discovered that the dying man was being given Holy Communion. Afterwards with their camera, they could see that the aura around him was brighter. Although in his fifties, the scientist conducting the experiment decided to become a priest after witnessing that.” (“Healing through the Mass,” Resurrection Press, pp. 84-85.)

The Eucharist is a living and powerful sacrament. And the Church has countless Eucharistic miracles to prove this truth in her two thousand years of history. For, indeed, Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist. Though it has the appearance of bread and wine, it is Jesus really present, as he plainly and directly said: “This is my Body. This is my Blood.”

One day St. Teresa of Avila heard someone say: “If only I had lived at the time of Jesus… If only I had seen Jesus… If only I had talked with Jesus…” To this she responded: “But do we not have in the Eucharist the living, true and real Jesus present before us? Why look for more?…In Communion the event is happening now, and it is entirely true. There’s no reason to go looking for Him in some other place far away… In the presence of Jesus in the Holy Sacrament, we ought to be like the Blessed in heaven before the Divine Essence.”

Before his ascension into heaven, Jesus told his followers: “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Mt 28:20). Note the use of the present tense, instead of the future tense, for he is not just promising something; rather, he is stating a fact: “I am with you always.” It was because, days before his ascension, at the Last Supper, Jesus has already instituted the sacrament of his Real Presence.

And to make sure that his presence will be perpetuated, he commanded his apostles: “Do this in memory of me.” By this, he also instituted the sacrament of the Ministerial Priesthood. The Eucharist is a memorial, not only in the sense of remembering a past event, but more especially, making present the one and eternal sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. This sacrament was entrusted to the priests who, acting “in persona Christi” (in the person of Christ), offer his bloodless sacrifice on the altar of the Eucharist, until he comes again in glory.

Why, then, would Jesus desire to be with us always? The answer is obvious: it is because of love. He wants to remain with us so that he can continually nourish us with his life-giving Body and Blood as we journey towards our heavenly home. He chooses to humble himself, and be hidden under the species of a lowly bread and ordinary wine, so that we can approach his divinity without fear and shame. He allows himself to be consumed by us in Holy Communion, so that he can be with us and be in us.

What is the relevance of the Eucharist in the world today? We all know that the present world is beset with all sorts of problems and troubles. Pope Benedict XVI is so bold as to tell us that the Eucharist, worthily received by faithful Christians, can transform this world. He said, “Communicate the hope of the Gospel and the strength to build a society that is more just and more worthy of man…from the source, from the Eucharist. Indeed, it is from the Eucharist, in which Christ makes Himself present in His supreme act of love for us all, that we learn to live as Christians in society, so as to make it more welcoming, more united, richer in love, and more attentive to everyone’s needs especially those of the weakest.” (Mar. 26, 2011).

The Eucharist has the power to transform us and thereby transform the world as well. This truth is shown to us when, during the Last Supper, at the institution of the sacrament of the Eucharist, Jesus bent down and washed the feet of his apostles. Afterwards, he gave this challenge: “If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do” (Jn 13:14-15). And then, he left us with this all-important command: I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. (Jn 13:34). The Eucharist nourishes and transforms us, making us more like Jesus. And as we endeavor to follow and imitate his love and selfless service for the needy, we also become potent agents of transformation of our society and of the whole world.

Let us praise and glorify God today for the gift of the Eucharist. It assures us of the loving and abiding presence of Jesus in our lives. Let us also thank God for the gift of the Ministerial Priesthood that ensures the continuous offering of the sacrifice of Jesus. And let us ask the Lord for the grace to remain faithful to the truth of his real presence in this most august sacrament, and to enable us to obey his commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you.”

Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Amsterdam St., Capitol Park Homes
Matandang Balara, Quezon City 1119


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