This evening we enter the Sacred Triduum or “three days” of our Lord’s passion, death, and resurrection—what we call the Paschal Mystery. However, these events in Jesus’ life are one act, one gesture of love by God. Further, they are not separate from the other events in His life. The Triduum contains Jesus’ whole life, purpose, and desire, which is to draw all people and all creation to the Father.
The part of this single mystery revealed in the Holy Thursday celebration of the Lord’s Supper is Jesus’ desire to remain with us after His death and resurrection and give us the means of coming into union with the Father. At the Last Supper, Jesus took bread and wine, blessed them, gave them to His disciples, and said, ‘This is my Body; this is my Blood. Do this in memory of me.’” He gave Himself physically to his disciples and to all who would later put faith in Him. He was not content to remain with us merely as a memory. He wanted to stay with us as His Body and Blood, as communion.
The Eucharist is the way that we get God’s life and love into our bloodstream. And it needs to get into our whole body, not just our minds. We have to receive the truth of God’s love into our bodies and demonstrate it with our lives. We have to be washed by the truth, fed on it, let it soak into our skin, make it part of ourselves.
In the Eucharist, we don’t just hear about Christ’s saving death; we experience it. We offer Christ to the Father and receive Him back as life-giving food. We become Christ’s very Body, the Church. What happens in the Eucharist is astounding and remarkable, but it takes time for this reality to sink in and become a part of us. It takes time for our selfishness, pride, and arrogance to be gradually worn away and replaced by the experience of God’s love and the willingness to serve one another. Eventually, others see the change in the way we live, especially in the way we love.
Reflection by Abbot Benedict Neenan, OSB