At the Mass "In cena Domini," Prelatic Church of Our Lady of Peace, Rome (April 13, 2006)
At the Mass In Coena
Domini, Prelatic Church of
Our Lady of Peace, Rome
1. Desiderio desideravi hoc Pascha manducare vobiscum! “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you!” These words are addressed to the apostles and, through them, to the whole Church, to us, as we recall those ineffable moments that we are commemorating in the solemnity of the Paschal Triduum.
Each of Jesus’ words and gestures—words and gestures of God—is an invitation with multiple facets requiring a full response from us, because he has given himself totally for us. The Master did not forget for a moment his mission as Redeemer. All of his actions, thoughts, words and prayers, and also his time of work and rest in Nazareth, and later his time with his disciples, were oriented towards the Sacrifice of the Cross, which becomes present for mankind at the celebration of Holy Mass. Through the grace that he gained for us, and which he constantly confers on us, we can make our life “essentially Eucharistic,” as St. Josemaría said.
The essence, as we well know, is what defines every reality. Therefore, with the help that reaches us from Heaven, what an obligation we have to unite our actions to the Eucharist! Yes, we have to make an effort to stay close to the Blessed Sacrament. We have to aspire to what St. Thomas Aquinas asked for in the hymn Adoro te devote: “praesta meae menti de te vivere!” Lord, grant that I not be able to live without you.
2. The possibility of acting with Christ, in Christ, and for Christ should fill us with joy and impel us to improve our behavior every day. We have the certainty that, although at times this joyful gift requires struggle—a hard struggle—there is no greater good here on earth than to walk in friendship with God.
In the Cenacle, during the priestly prayer at the institution of the Eucharist, Jesus shows us clearly that he is the Emmanuel, God with us, and he tells us that the friendship he offers us is precisely to share in his intimacy with the Father. Those men who listened to him were weak, as are we. The narrative gives us consolation and strength to persevere in the good: Jesus does not exclude anyone. Only the one whose heart is hardened, who does not want to change, is capable of closing his soul, of becoming a traitor.
Let us resolve to have frequent and more diligent recourse to the Eucharist—would that it were every day!—convinced that we are the beneficiaries. Let us strive not to distance ourselves from him, first of all by our daily struggle to reject sin, shunning the attitude of the false friend who abandons the one who loves him, to the point of giving his life for him.
3. From the first moment of his Pontificate, Benedict XVI has insisted on the centrality of the Eucharist in the Church, and in the conduct of each of the Church’s children. Among many other suggestions, he has reminded us of the determination of those early Christian martyrs, who when faced with misunderstanding and threats affirmed without hesitation: sine Dominico non possumus! We cannot live without meeting on Sunday to celebrate the Eucharist!
Those men and women responded in this way to a prohibition of celebrating the Lord’s day. We, who also know how much God loves us, have to apply that expression to our daily life. I ask you sincerely to incorporate into your daily schedule attendance at Mass and reception of the Eucharist.
We must not forget that today too there are many tyrants who malevolently oppose our taking advantage of the treasure of the Eucharist. And they may even be within us, in the form of comfort seeking, pride, sensuality, and the scourge of lukewarm conduct.
Or perhaps we encounter them in the environment around us, with the refusal to recognize that the creature without God is nothing and less than nothing. Let us react with joyful courage, never allowing human respects to overpower us or impede us from giving witness to our faith.
4. Therefore, although you may find obstacles around you (our Lord too encountered them, and he told us that a disciple is not above his Master), also today it happens that many people, on seeing Christian conduct, experience the health-bringing crisis of a conversion. Yes, that so many men and women in the world return to the faith, or at least begin along this path, depends on our own Eucharistic piety.
Pope John Paul II said that in the Eucharist, with the real presence of Christ’s Body and Blood, one finds the fragrance of our Lady, who, by the work of the Holy Spirit, gave Body and Blood to our Redeemer. Let us turn to the intercession of Mary to become Eucharistic souls.