Considerations on Holy Communion
2. The Holy Eucharist is a Gift of Love
It was not strictly necessary for our salvation that the Redeemer should die, and atone for our sins by the sacrifice of His life. It was not necessary that, after dying for us He should give us Himself as our food. It was His excessive love that prompted Him to do so. St. Lawrence Justinian says that "Jesus Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist for no other purpose than to make us understand the immense love He bears us." This is also the language of the beloved disciple: "Jesus, knowing that His hour was come, that He should pass out of this world to the Father, having loved His own, He loved them to the end." (John 13. 1.) Being about to leave this world, Jesus Christ wished to give us the greatest proof of His love. He bequeathed to us the precious gift of the most holy Sacrament. It was at the very time when men were plotting to betray, arrest and condemn Him; when men were preparing the cords, the scourges, the thorns and the cross to crucify Him, that our loving Redeemer gave us this last, this enduring pledge of His love. We always remember with special love the last gift of a dying father. The Son of God was not content with uniting Himself to our human nature in the mystery of the Incarnation, He wished to unite Himself also with each one of us in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. "In no other action," says St. Francis de Sales, "can the Redeemer be considered more tender and more loving than in the institution of this Sacrament, in which He, as it were, annihilates Himself, and becomes our food in order to enter our souls and unite Himself to our hearts." "In this manner," says St. Chrysostom, "we are united and made one body and one flesh with that Lord, in whose presence the angels are filled with awe, and on whose infinite Majesty they dare not fix their gaze." "Jesus hath," indeed, according to the Royal Prophet, "made a remembrance of His wonderful works; He hath given food to them that fear Him." (Ps. 110. 4.)
The Ven. Claude Columbière used to say: "If anything could shake my faith in the mystery of the Eucharist, it is not the power, but rather the love which God displays in this Sacrament. If you ask me, how bread becomes the body of Jesus, how Jesus is found in so many places, I answer that God can do all things. But if you ask me, how it is, that God loves men so much as to make Himself their food, I can only say that I do not understand it; and that the love of Jesus for men is incomprehensible." St. Thomas calls this Sacrament, "the Sacrament of love, the pledge of love." St. Bernard calls it, "the Love of loves." St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi was wont to call Holy Thursday, "the day of love."
O infinite love of my Jesus, thou art deserving of infinite love. When, O my sweet Jesus, shall I love Thee as much as Thou hast loved me? Thou canst give me no greater proof of Thy love. And I, wretched sinner, have forsaken Thee, the infinite Good, for the sake of vile and worthless creatures. Enlighten me, O my God! Make me understand the love which Thou bearest me, that my whole soul may become enamored of Thee, and that I may always strive to please Thee. I love Thee, O my Jesus, my Love, my All! I desire to unite myself frequently to Thee in this Sacrament. Wean my heart from all creatures. May I love Thee alone, my Treasure, my Life. Through the merits of Thy passion assist me, O my loving Redeemer! O Mary, Mother of my Jesus, and my Mother, help me to love Jesus. Beseech Him to inflame my heart with His holy love. Amen