Holy Thursday night, the institution of the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Christ, is one of the most famous and dramatic nights in history. Christians all over the world have been influenced by the event that found Christ and twelve fishermen gathered in an upper room. From that night when Christ took bread and wine in his hands, gave the apostles the privilege of being there and then gave them the power to change lifeless bread into the Bread of Life, from that night the world has never been the same.
When you think of Christ, the High Priest, taking twelve men and making them priests, this has to be one of the most important nights in the history of mankind. Because from that night came the Body and Blood of Christ and twelve men who bring his body and blood wherever they would be as priests.
Two thousand years later, this mystery of the Body and Blood, this mystery of the Eucharist, is still being made known especially to the followers of Christ.
The Eucharist is at the heart of what Catholics believe. Almost any Catholic who has made his First Communion, almost any Catholic who frequently receives the Body and Blood of Christ, feels special. And well, they should. For at the moment the host is received that Catholic can say it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives within him. That person who receives Christ is having a private audience with the Son of God. For the Catholic who receives the Eucharist, there is the feeling I am welcoming the Christ of the Eucharist into my heart. The thought of Christ living within one, the thought of this intimacy between Christ and man makes every Catholic realize the factor of closeness to God. Almost every Catholic can recall the story of the Last Supper. Almost every Catholic realizes when he receives communion he is not only re-establishing a closer friendship with God's Son, but that he is taking part in that event that started on that first Holy Thursday.
In the reception of the Eucharist, we receive a divine guarantee of our friendship with God. God's Son allows us, in the Eucharist, to unite his mind and heart with our mind and heart. When the average non-Catholic sees a Catholic go to receive communion, there is no great awareness than to think this is what Catholics do at this time in the service. But to the Catholic that reception of Christ is an affirmation of his faith in the words of Christ, do this in commemoration of me.
The Catholic who receives the body and blood of Christ is saying I believe in you, I trust you, I love you. The Eucharist, the reception of the body and blood of Christ, is the most intimate act between Christ and man.
When any person receives the Eucharist, the body and blood of Christ, that person feels better because he is closer to God, that person is better because he brings the spirit back to his own house, his own community.
The apostles brought the Eucharist to the distant regions of the world. Almost every place they went, the world was made better. And why? Because those communities that experienced the works and teachings of the Gospel experienced the spirit of Christ.
Today in our 20th Century, the people who receive the Eucharist and go home and into the community are bringing the same spirit of Christ. The Eucharist is a reminder to all Catholics of the qualities that Christ preached and lived during his life. The compassion to the lepers, the forgiveness of the woman found in adultery, the pardon to the good thief are all offshoots of the Christ who said this is my body, this is my blood. And Catholics know this almost from the time of their First Communion. The Eucharist makes a difference in every Catholic's life.
Theologians are always reminding us of the importance of the Eucharist. How it is the centerpiece of every Catholics spirituality. Psychologists could also teach that from the Eucharist comes a peace and a serenity that one can receive in no other way. And both theologians and psychologists could tell us that because of what takes place at Mass and what takes place when a person receives communion that there is a degree of intimacy between Christ and man that deepens the spirituality of the believer. One who receives the Eucharist never feels an isolation or abandonment because at that time he is united to God in the most intimate way possible, through the body and blood of Christ. The Eucharist is the sacrament of friendship between God and man.
In English literature, we might have a heated discussion as to whether Shakespeare's words, "Friends, Romans, Countrymen" can be called the most powerful words in literature. In history we can debate whether Lincoln's words, "Four score and seven years ago..." might be called the most powerful words.
But for the average Catholic, who can never forget, the most powerful words ever spoken were the words, "this is my Body, this is my Blood." These words, not only revolutionized the life of every Catholic, they revolutionized the life of the world.