Today is the day! Holy Thursday is the Catholic Valentine's Day! This is the day Jesus longed for. He "eagerly desired to eat this Passover" with His disciples. His Sacred Heart was bursting to bring them this greatest of gifts. It was, and is, the gift of His crazy love for us.
Only Jesus Himself could have thought of this gift. Catholics believe (and this is apostolic baby!) that the Eucharist is not a little trinket or a keychain that says "Jesus loves you" - it's not just a memory or a symbol, like a painting of Him or a crucifix - not a little photo album of snapshots from the old days of miracles and wanderings and teachings from Galilee. It's.... Him, in the FLESH. When we open up the present of the Eucharist, surprise! It's His Real Presence!
This gift is so real, so present, that I fear many of us might be afraid to open it.
The Eucharist is such an expensive, exotic, exorbitant gift that sometimes I think we don't know what to do with It... Him.... this gift! "Wow... thank you. Thank you, thanks..." And we put this gift in a safe, dust-free place in our heads or hearts (or on a shelf in our churches) and we move on to the next thing.
The Eucharist is scandalous love. The Eucharist is crazy. As the saints and mystics have told us, It is love to the point of folly! I believe that's why we either get it or we don't. We're lost in this love (like the Air Supply song) or we're embarrassed by it and feel like we'd rather just say "amen" and scurry back to our pew and read the bulletin or something.
Now sometimes the love of my wife completely overwhelms me. What did I do to deserve this much attention, this much devotion, this much care and concern? I'm just a goofy guy from New Jersey! Then I sit back and say, "Thank you... thanks... for loving me, even in all of my unloveableness." Other times, I just sit back and wonder. Love is a crazy thing, isn't it?
When I sit down and think about the Eucharist.... oiy! I once heard a kind old priest on a retreat talking about some topic of faith. He said "Don't even get me started on the Eucharist! You'll have to get out the mop and clean me up off the floor!" Wow, that guy was in love. Even after so many years of service at the altar, he was IN love. Because the Eucharist IS Love. Love magnified and multiplied. Love dropped like an atom bomb or blossoming like a supernova in the center of our being. When we get it, we can't resist It. Worries and fears of worthiness are blown away, and we enter into the burning love of the Father and the Son; we're caught up in the dance of the Holy Spirit.
Tonight we can hear, in a thousand churches, the Heartbeat of God. And if we're ready, if the heart is washed in the showers of Reconciliation, and the table cleared of clutter as best we can clear it, we can enter into this embrace. Let's not turn away in shame or embarrassment thinking His Love is too much or our hearts are too distracted. Tonight, He beckons us to come and eat.
"Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me."
- Revelations 3:20
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