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Jesus “Eagerly” Offers Himself in the Holy Eucharist
The readings from Palm Sunday carry a message of hope throughout the images of doom and gloom. In the second and longer Gospel, as Jesus reclines at table with His apostles, He tells them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer” (Luke 22:15).
The New American translation here uses the term “eagerly” to describe Jesus's attitude toward His final meal before He enters into His bitter Passion. Alternatively, the RSV edition reads that our Lord “earnestly desired” to eat this meal with them. Regardless of how this phrase is rendered, the anglicized rhetoric still gets the same point across: that Jesus, deep in His Being, longed to present this meal to His closest disciples.
That night something more than the annual Passover memorial took place. The meal they shared was more special, more extraordinary than that.
It's here where Jesus offers His followers His very self – His flesh which is true food and His blood which is true drink. Food sustains life. In the Eucharist, we come into contact with Christ supernaturally; He is in our souls, and we become one with Him. We enter into the divine life and the love of God.
Hence, we see that the Last Supper was more than a meal, beyond even a sacred religious meal. It was the institution of a New Covenant, sealed in the flesh and blood of Christ, which the apostles themselves received.
Just prior to laying down His life physically on the Cross, Jesus laid out His life for His friends, offering each of them the chance to enter into His life of love.
Our Lord's life can only possibly be one of love since in it He exemplifies true selflessness. Here at the Last Supper, He is not concerned about His own mortal welfare, nor does He allow the fact of His oncoming death to halt His persistence. Instead, we see Him express that He eagerly gives Himself to us. And how could it be otherwise?
Only the Lord Jesus, Who came into the world to die for those in it, could eagerly give us the Blessed Sacrament when His death was so close at hand. Doing so, He knew, would expedite the series of events leading to His betrayal, trial, condemnation, and Crucifixion. Still, He didn't hesitate to offer Himself for those whom He loved.
Jesus is God not of the dead, but of the living. His love is alive, and we are the object of His love and desire. From the Cross, He has thirsted for us. Even today, at this very hour, Jesus eagerly awaits you in the Eucharist...