THE LOVE OF JESUS IN GIVING US HIMSELF IN HOLY COMMUNION
The Most Holy Sacrament is the Gift of God’s pure love. Jesus had already given Himself to us in many ways; as our Companion, our Master, our Father, our Light, our Example, our Victim. “It was the last effort of love when He gave Himself to be our Food.” -(St. Bernardine).
Let us consider the great love Jesus has shown us in giving us Himself in the Holy Eucharist. The Most Holy Sacrament is the Gift of pure love. According to the Divine decree it was necessary that our Redeemer should die in order to save us, and should by the sacrifice of His life, satisfy the Divine justice for our sins; but what necessity was there that Jesus Christ, after dying for us, should leave us Himself to be our Food? Yet, thus His love willed. St. Laurence Justinian says His excessive charity alone led Him to institute the Most Holy Sacrament, only to make us understand the immense love He bears us; and this is precisely what St. John writes: Jesus, knowing that his hour was come that he should pass out of this world to the Father: having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them unto the end-(Jo. xiii. 1). Knowing that the time had come for Him to quit this world, Jesus would leave us the greatest possible proof of His love, which was this Gift of the Most Blessed Sacrament, as we are taught in these words, He loved them unto the end; that is, “with extreme love He loved them to the utmost,” as Theophylact and St. Chrysostom explain it.
And we must observe what the Apostle mentions, that the time in which Jesus Christ was pleased to leave us this Gift was the very time of His Death: The Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread, and giving thanks, broke, and said: Take ye and eat; this is my body-(l Cor. xi. 23, 24). While men were preparing scourges and thorns, and a Cross to put Him to death, our loving Saviour wished to leave us this last proof of His love. And why did He institute this Sacrament when He was going to die, and not before? St. Bernardine says that He did so because “the last marks of love given by dying friends remain more easily in our memory, and are more dearly cherished.” The Saint adds that Jesus Christ had already given Himself to us in many ways; He had made Himself our Companion, our Master, our Father. our Light, our Example, and our Victim: “It was the last effort of love when He gave Himself to be our Food; for He gave Himself to be united completely to us, as food and he who eats it are united; so that our Redeemer was not satisfied with merely uniting Himself to our human nature, but He was pleased to find in this Sacrament the means of uniting Himself to each of us in particular.
O infinite love of Jesus, worthy of infinite love! Ah! my Jesus, when shall I love Thee as Thou hast loved me? Thou couldst do nothing more to make me love Thee; and I have forsaken Thee, 0 infinite Good, for the sake of vile and miserable goods! Ah! enlighten me, my God, and discover to me always more and more the greatness of Thy goodness, that my whole soul may be enamoured of Thee, and that I may labour to please Thee.
St. Francis of Sales says: “There is no action in which we may more perfectly see the tenderness and love of our Saviour than in this, in which He, as it were, annihilates Himself, and reduces Himself into Food, to penetrate our souls, and unite Himself to the hearts of His faithful.” “So that,” says St. John Chrysostom, “we unite ourselves, and are made one body and one flesh with that of the Lord, on Whom the Angels dare not fix their eyes.” The same Saint adds, “What shepherd ever fed his sheep with his own blood? But why do I speak of shepherds? There are many mothers who give their children to others to be nursed; but He acts not thus, He feeds us with His own Blood.” But why did He make Himself our Food? Because, says the Saint, He loved us ardently, and so desired to unite Himself to us and to become One and the same thing with us: “He mingled Himself with us that we might be one thing with Him: for this is the property of those who ardently love.” Thus, then, did Jesus Christ will to perform the greatest of all miracles-He hath made a remembrance of his wonderful works, he hath given food to them that fear him (Ps. cx. 4, 5)-in order to satisfy the desire He had of remaining with us and of uniting our hearts to His own Most Sacred Heart. “Oh, how wonderful is Thy love, Lord Jesus!” exclaims St. Laurence Justinian; “Thy desire is to incorporate us so entirely with Thy own Body, that our heart and soul may be inseparably united to Thine own.”
The great servant of God, Father de la Colombiere, used to say: If anything could shake my faith in the mystery of the Eucharist, I should not doubt the power, but the love which God shows us in His Sacrament. If you ask me how bread becomes the Body of Jesus-how Jesus is to be found in many places-I reply, God can do all things. But if you ask me how God can love man to such an excess as to become his Food,-I can only answer that I do not understand it, and that the love of Jesus cannot be comprehended.
But, O Lord, it seems that such an excessive affection as to reduce Thyself to Food is not becoming Thy majesty. St. Bernard answers that love makes the lover forget his own dignity; and St. Chrysostom answers similarly, that love does not seek what is suitable when it wishes to make itself known to the beloved: “Love neglects reason; and goes where it is led, not where it ought.” The angelical St. Thomas was, then, right in calling this the Sacrament of Love, and the Pledge of Love; and St. Bernard, in calling it “the Love of loves.” So was St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi in calling Maundy Thursday, on which day this Sacrament was instituted, “the day of love.”
I love Thee and I thank Thee, O my Jesus, my Love, my All; and I wish to unite myself frequently to Thee in this Sacrament, in order to detach myself from all things, and to love Thee alone, Who art my Life. Through the merits of Thy Passion, assist me, O my Redeemer! O Mother of Jesus, and my Mother, do thou, too, assist me; beg of Jesus to inflame my whole heart with His holy love.