O precious and wonderful banquet that brings us salvation and contains all sweetness! Could anything be of more indispensable worth? Under the old law it was the flesh of calves and goats that was offered, but here Christ himself, the true God, is set before us as our food. What could be more wonderful than this? No other sacrament has greater healing power; through it sins are washed away, virtues increased and the soul enriched with an abundance of every spiritual gift. It is offered in Church for the living and the dead, so that what was instituted for the salvation of all may be for the benefit of all. Ultimately no one can fully express the sweetness of this sacrament, in which spiritual delight is tasted at its very source, and in which we renew the memory of that incomparable love for us which Christ revealed in his passion.
It was to impress the magnitude of this love more firmly upon the hearts of the faithful that our Lord instituted this sacrament at the Last Supper. As he was about to leave the world to go to the Father…he left it as a perpetual memorial of his passion. It was the fulfillment of ancient symbols and the greatest of all his miracles, while for those who were to experience the sorrow of his departure, it was destined to be a unique and abiding consolation.
In the early morning darkness during Vigils, we listened to these words of Saint Thomas Aquinas and pondered the inestimable beauty of Jesus' gift to us in the Most Blessed Sacrament. Which of us is worthy of such Holy Communion? It is only the gaze of Love that draw us into the reality of our belovedness. And so wisely enough the Church has given us this prayer to recite together before we receive Holy Communion: “O Lord, I am not worthy.” We are not worthy; Love has made us worthy. Indeed, in his desire for us, in his dying and rising for us, Jesus has loved us into worthiness. And the response of a grateful, awe-filled heart is always appropriately- I am not worthy. It is never about worth, but always about love, and the condescension of Christ’s tender mercy, the tenderness we never really deserve.
Photograph by Brother Casimir. Lines from Saint Thomas Aquinas.