Our Source And Summit
Reflection on Luke 22:14-15
The sky blushes in the west, the clouds seeming to catch fire from beneath. Peter and John hurry to put the finishing touches on their preparations...the lamb and herbs, the bread and wine, the table and furnishings. Peter glances out the window; the red disc of the sun rests upon the horizon. John is looking at the table to make sure not a cup or dish is missing.
Turning to him, Peter says, “Are we ready?”
“We’re ready, Simon.”
Could they be ready for what is about to happen?
Soon the rest of the Twelve begin to trickle in. Jesus arrives; they pray and light the lamps as the dusk deepens. There is, tonight, an unusually solemn note to this Passover meal. Jesus looks around at His Apostles. “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer,” He says. I wonder how their hearts are moved as they hear this.
* * *
“I have earnestly desired,” Jesus says, that is literally, “with desire have I desired.” On the eve of His Passion, Jesus reveals this longing of His Heart to give, not merely His teaching, but His very self to His disciples, to not just be in proximity to but in communion with them. In the Eucharist, He will remain with them, really present in His Body and Blood, even after He ascends to the right hand of His Father.
“With desire have I desired....” We can hear Jesus’ words as addressed to us. He desires to give us His very self in the Holy Eucharist. When we consider this, do our hearts not burn as did the disciples’ on the way to Emmaus when Jesus pursued them though they did not yet know it was Him? A heart that perceives the Beloved’s longing spontaneously wishes to respond, to receive love and give oneself in return.
I have heard a number of people in recent months lament the fact that churches are emptier than they used to be. Understandably, there are those staying home because they are vulnerable or have health problems. Yet, even after taking this into account, it seems that in many places congregations at Mass have been unusually small since churches opened their doors again. How can we respond to this? I propose that perhaps our first response should be to grow even more in our own love for Jesus in the Eucharist.
When you think about it, is it not astounding that Jesus longs for your unique response to His self-gift? He desires your (and my) wide-open heart, ready to receive Him totally and to respond with the gift of yourself—the gift only you can give—in return. And a soul filled with the love of God cannot help but want to share this with others.
“Draw me after you, let us make haste,” the Bride says in the Song of Songs (Songs 1:4). St. Thérèse saw in this verse a soul moving toward God in love and drawing other souls in her train. A bonfire gives more light than a candle; it attracts others to its warmth and light. If we are on fire with love for God, we will radiate His love—and only His love can fulfill the heart’s deepest desires. Then, when we have an opportunity to invite someone back to Mass, the invitation will come from a great inner conviction that the Eucharist is, indeed, the source and summit of the Christian life and the source and summit of our own lives. The Lord desires and the Lord pursues souls, and He is the one to give the grace needed to turn (or turn back) to Him. But perhaps we can be His instruments as well; maybe the fire in our hearts can spark in others a desire to know the source of our joy. May our deepening love help to kindle a renewed love in those around us for the Holy Eucharist, this tremendous self-gift Jesus desires to give to everyone.
Sr. Cecilia Francis, CFR