At the Holy Thursday liturgy we celebrate the institution of the Eucharist. Jesus loved us enough to create a sacrament in which He physically comes into our bodies and souls — what an amazing gift! Yet, I admit, I often take it for granted. Don’t get me wrong — I look forward to going to Mass each week. I wouldn’t be able to make it through the week without the spiritual sustenance. I know that, and yet, in the midst of Mass, my mind often wanders. I’m focused on how my children are behaving or thinking of what we will be doing the rest of the day, or pondering something that might have happened during the week. My body is there, doing the motions, but my mind is far away. I go up to Communion and kneel down to pray, but I’ve lost much of that wonder at the Eucharist that I had as a child.
When I was four, I couldn’t wait to receive my First Communion. I wanted Jesus so much. It was an eternity to wait until I was seven for the big day! My older son is making his First Communion next month and he is just as excited, and I am excited for him. Every week when we come back from the communion line, he says “Just a few more weeks and it will be my turn!” I know that Jesus is already with him, but I am hopeful that receiving Jesus in the Eucharist will give him some added strength and grace. I know that the Eucharist is an incredible gift that we are so blessed to be able to receive.
I know that there are people out there who are conscious of the mystery and tremendous gift of the Eucharist every time they receive communion. I know one man who actually cries during Mass because it touches him so deeply. For those of us, however, who do not always remember, Holy Week provides the perfect opportunity to rediscover this priceless treasure. At a time when we focus on the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus made for us, we also recall His last gift to His friends before His death — the gift of Himself. “Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had said the blessing he broke it and gave it to the disciples. ‘Take it and eat,’ he said, ‘this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he handed it to them saying, ‘Drink from this, all of you, for this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins’” (Matthew 26:26-28). Jesus is that close to us. He wants to be part of us. It is the most intimate of connections. We need to treasure it.