Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Holy Eucharist vs. The Hour of Darkness: Holy Thursday Reflections

"He took the bread, said the blessing, broke it and gave it to them saying 'Take it, this is my body.' Then he took the cup, gave thanks, gave it to them ... saying 'This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.'"
(Mark 14:22-24)

"This is your hour, the time for the power of darkness."
(Luke 22:53)

Re-reading the gospel passages on the wonderful and terrible events that unfolded on Holy Thursday, it becomes clear that one can never fully withstand the power of darkness without an understanding (and worthy reception) of the Holy Eucharist. There can be no coincidence that Christ instituted the Blessed Sacrament just before Satan demanded the disciples be "sifted like wheat" (Luke 22:31).

For most of Christ's disciples, their initial reception of Holy Communion did not seem to help. While John stayed faithful to the end (and was rewarded by Jesus by being entrusted with His Mother) the others all left Christ at his hour of need. And yet, after the Resurrection, with greater understanding and frequent reception of the Eucharist, the apostles all were strengthened to the point that they (with the exception of John, the first worthy recipient who had already proved himself) all died a martyr's death in the name of their Saviour.

The second point of that first Eucharist was unity, not only with Christ and the Father but with each other. If Catholics must learn to receive the sacrament worthily, schismatic Christians must again learn they need to receive it—which of course, is possible only in the Church. Christ yearned that his followers be one in his Father and Him so that they know love but also "that the world may know that you sent me" (John 17:23). Without the reunification of Christianity, the witness of Christians is too divided to make much of a dent in the non-Christian world. Instead the power of darkness grows. Whereas in Jesus' time the official line of Caraphas "It is better for you that one man should die instead of the people so that the whole nation should not perish" (John 12:49-50) has become "It is better that millions of babies (and old people) should die then for one healthy adult to be inconvenienced."

Yes, the hour of darkness has come to our day too, but we must not get discouraged. Jesus has given us the antidote. We must receive the Eucharist frequently and fervently. If we do, we will either convert the world or, like the apostles, die trying.

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