It is very helpful to reflect on the Eucharist from our Lord’s point of view.
Jesus really wants us to participate in the Mass. Because he loves us, he wants to be with us and to give himself to us. St Luke tells us that Jesus began the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper by telling his disciples: “I have earnestly desired to eat this passover with you” (Lk 22:15).
Precisely because he loves us Jesus yearns to be with us. This is why he instituted the Eucharist. As Pope St John Paul II explains it in his great encyclical on the Eucharist: “The Lord Jesus on the night he was betrayed” (1 Cor 11:23) instituted the Eucharistic Sacrifice of his body and his blood (…) This sacrifice is so decisive for the salvation of the human race that Jesus Christ offered it and returned to the Father only after he had left us a means of sharing in it as if we had been present there. Each member of the faithful can thus take part in it and inexhaustibly gain its fruits. This is the faith from which generations of Christians down the ages have lived”.
It is very helpful to reflect on the Eucharist from our Lord’s point of view. We tend to think about the Mass from our own perspective: what we get out of the Mass, whether we find it interesting or not, how we feel about the Mass.
Much more important however is how Jesus Christ sees the Mass, and what his attitude is in the Eucharist. The Mass is much less about what we do, and much more about what our Lord is doing. The truest and richest understanding of this sacrament comes from trying to grasp how the Lord Jesus longs for our participation in his sacrifice. As St Josemaría wrote: “There he is: the King of kings and the Lord of lords, hidden in the Bread. To this extreme has he humbled himself for love of you”. The same logic of love explains Holy Communion. True friends long to be together, to share one another’s life. Loving spouses seek mutual communion. Jesus Christ, the ultimate teacher and model of all love, friendship and communion offers himself to us out of pure love. As the Catechism teaches: “The Lord addresses an invitation to us, urging us to receive him in the sacrament of the Eucharist”.
Because it is a question of love it makes sense that one should receive only if properly disposed, namely; being in the state of grace, having observed the Eucharistic fast, believing in the Lord’s real presence and freely wishing to receive. True love calls for true love. Sometimes when we hear somebody say they “missed Mass” we can reflect how much our Lord has “missed them” his beloved children when they were not with him in his Sacrifice.
The prophet Isaiah foretold that the Saviour would be called Emmanuel which means “God is with us” (Is 7:14; Mt 1:23). God came to us when he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and he comes to be with us, close to us, even within us, in the Eucharistic Celebration. God could not be closer to us than in the Eucharist because his love for us could not be greater.
Christ awaits each and every one of his beloved children in the Eucharist. “When you approach the Tabernacle remember that he has been awaiting you for twenty centuries”, says St Josemaría.
Why go to Mass? Because Jesus lovingly awaits us there.
“Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end” (Jn 13:1). This is how St John, the beloved disciple, begins his detailed account of the Last Supper, which was the first Mass. The climate of every Mass is this limitless love of Jesus. This is why the Church calls the Eucharist “the sacrament of God’s love”.
By Fr. Donncha O hAodha