Eucharist Miracle Eucharist Miracles

Homily of H.E. Mons. Claudio Gatti of April 5, 2007

1st reading: Is 61:1-3, 6:8-9; Psalm 88; 2nd reading: Ap 1:5-8; Gospel: Lk 4:16-21

Look carefully at the bas-relief of the last supper you see before the altar, which you all know very well. Imagine it in your mind, so you will better follow what I am going to tell you. We added, next to Jesus, the one who is not spoken of in the Gospel, but you will understand why. In order to say this homily, I stand before the altar to give a sense of greater familiarity to what I am going to tell you: it is just like when a father is gathering all the children before him, even if, by age, I cannot be everyone’s father, and tells them what they have never known.

Let's start with the bas-relief: on Thursday, as wonderfully told by the four evangelists, the institution of the Eucharist takes place. You certainly know the episodes that occurred during the last supper because, for several years, I sought to take the passages of the four Gospels and elaborate a single story out of them, linking them according to logic and chronology criteria. However, much more surely exists than the concise account of the last supper reported by the evangelists and it is just this that we will know and appreciate today.

Let's start with a feast we recently celebrated: the Annunciation, the great event of Incarnation. What was the first sentence that Jesus, incarnating himself in Mary’s most pure womb, told his Mother? "Thank you, mother because you are giving me a body that will serve for the passion and crucifixion, you are giving me your blood, that blood that I will pour during my passion." Jesus thanked his mother and this already makes you understand that if Jesus is the great protagonist of the institution of the Eucharist, because the sacraments can only be established by God and Christ is true Man and true God, the mother is the one who, after Christ and subordinate to Christ, collaborated for the sacrament of the Eucharist. In it Jesus is present in Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, that body made by Mary, that blood given by Mary. After the first thanks from Jesus to his mother there followed nine months of natural gestation that every mother carries out, during which between Mary and the baby in her womb, just because he was God, long dialogues and great prayers before the Father took place. All this was never interrupted, on the contrary, it was always going on strong, even if Joseph was not aware of it and was not part of it because that is the plan of God, sometimes truly incomprehensible. Certainly, in these dialogues, one of the most discussed topics was the Eucharist. Jesus spoke to his mother about what He would say and what He would do, disclosing to her that the title He cared most for her was that of Mother of the Eucharist. In fact, on the occasion of circumcision, eight days after his birth, before his virgin flesh was sacrificed, delivering the first blood, Jesus addressed his mother who was shaken thinking of the first suffering that her Son would have endured, saying: "You are Mother of the Eucharist”. Perhaps some of you thought it was a sudden thing or a sentence that may have surprised Our Lady, but it is not like that because for nine long months they had talked to each other, so for Mary it was a known and already accepted title.

Now think of a grown up Jesus, aged twelve, when he got lost, when Joseph and Mary find him in the temple and see him listening and asking questions to the doctors of the law, who, as the evangelist Luke writes, marveled at his intelligence and about the questions that this boy asked them. This means that God is always Himself, he never changes, so he is Omniscient, Omnipotent, Omnipresent and he can be in the guise of a newborn child, a twelve year old boy, an older teenager or a mature man. I tell you this to anticipate that during the long silent and hidden years in Nazareth, Jesus behaved with Mary and Joseph as he had behaved with the doctors of the law. Jesus is Omniscient because he is true God, therefore, regardless of age, in that context he spoke to them with the infinite wisdom of God and certainly He spoke of his mission and the highest point, the most beautiful and final point, encompassing everything: the Eucharist. Jesus spoke of the Eucharist to the Mother of the Eucharist and to the Guardian of the Eucharist; therefore, Joseph did not hear the title "Custodian of the Eucharist" for the first time from us, but certainly from the Son. In the Eucharist is present all of Jesus in Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, the Jesus who Joseph cradled, assisted, fondled, defended and protected; therefore to say that he is Jesus’ guardian or guardian of Jesus the Eucharist is the same thing.

How beautiful and interesting those speeches would have been, and they would be just as interesting for us, if the Lord could make them known to us. As Jesus spoke of the Eucharist, Mary and Joseph grew in an anticipated faith and in a great love for the Eucharistic mystery; so we too should follow them and grow in this respect.

As the years flew by and the Master first as a child, then adolescent, young man, and then mature man, grew and lived his earthly existence, the wisdom of God was with Him and his parents cherished this science. Indeed, Luke again, states: "But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart" (Lk 2:19). Mary kept what the Son taught her and what He made known to her and this early knowledge of the Eucharistic mystery will be made available to the apostles by Our Lady after Jesus' Ascension into Heaven. Although discreetly, Mary was the one who best preserved the memory of Jesus' life, his actions, his teachings, to which she added her own teachings. All these pearls were treasured by the apostles, then the evangelists and lastly we too treasure them.

In the Gospel very little is spoken of Our Lady and this was upon her request because the scene had to be completely taken by Jesus and no one else could call their own attention. Jesus, at the right time, began his public life, chose the apostles, moved with them from one place to another and at the same time trained them. You know that before becoming priests, the candidates for priesthood live, work and study in the seminary. The apostles too had their seminary, but they were more fortunate because Jesus was their rector, spiritual father and teacher. At that time, especially in the evening, before going to bed, there was no radio or television, but there was Jesus who catechized, spoke and taught much better than any television or radio program. It is not possible that Jesus told the apostles just what is contained in the Gospels; in fact, it is John who declares, in the last verses of his Gospel, that if he had to tell all what Jesus did and said, all the books of the Earth would not have been enough to collect his teachings. This means that Jesus spoke and taught a lot and took care to give His teaching in a collective and communitarian way; He lent himself as a spiritual father, he spoke to every apostle in secrecy and privacy, helping each of them to improve their character, strengthen their virtues and fight their flaws. Hence the apostles knew very well the doctrine and the truth about the Eucharist and did not find themselves suddenly flung into the last supper.

And now we come to the last supper. In the Gospel we read: "So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying: “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it.” They said to him: “Where will you have us prepare it?” He said to them: “Behold, when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him into the house that he enters and tell the master of the house: ‘The Teacher says to you, where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ And he will show you a large upper room furnished; prepare it there.” And they went and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover". (Lk 22:8-13)

But the apostles were not alone. It is not possible that Peter and John, alone and in a short time, bought the lamb, cleaned it and cooked it, prepared unleavened bread and bitter herbs. All this they did together with Our Lady and the pious women. You know that Our Lady has always been close to Jesus during all public life, in bilocation or physically, without ever leaving him. At the beginning of the eighth chapter, Luke says that with Jesus there were the twelve, Mary, Joanna, Susanna and Magdalene, who were freed from the devil and infirmity, but also other women who are not named and all of them served Jesus and the apostles offering their possessions. These women, together with Our Lady, were always with Jesus in his movements, so there was a whole party that moved. The apostles could not think of provisions, of food, of finding places to sleep; all this was arranged by their sisters and especially by the mother of Jesus. Our Lady and the pious women, together with the apostles, prepared everything in the best way. We can define Our Lady a cook, but also an attendant because she cleaned and decorated as well. Imagine with how much love Mary prepared the room to celebrate Easter because, besides Jesus, she alone knew what the purpose of that room was and she alone knew what her Son would do; in fact, she was aware that Jesus was now at the end of his life and would have to face capture, passion and death. Joy and suffering alternated in her heart, but she did not report anything to the other women, she prayed and was happy that the fruit of her work could be used for the solemn Mass that Jesus was going to celebrate.

When Jesus arrived, he was welcomed by his mother and the other women who, even though invited by Our Lady, for privacy and discretion, gathered in an adjoining room to leave Jesus the opportunity to talk again with the apostles. The Lord did not said just what is told in the Gospel, but certainly also that he would have celebrated the Eucharist, that great mystery, that great sacrament of which he had previously spoken to them many times and told them words that surely inflamed them. As the moment of the institution of the Eucharist approached, couldn’t Jesus have near him the Mother of the Eucharist? He called his mother and made her sit next to him. Jesus the Eucharist, Jesus the priest, Jesus the victim in the same person, had Mary at his side who together with the others received the Eucharist. Our Lady's love is always surprising: in fact she did not forget the pious women and told her Son: "Jesus, my sisters too would be happy to receive you", and Jesus also allowed your ancestors to be present and receive the great sacrament of the Eucharist. At that time, for the first time, the Church was there around the Eucharist in its reality of many ministers, as priests and bishops were present, having been ordained by Jesus, and lay people, represented by you all. But we can go further and wander who encouraged the apostles to celebrate the H. Mass. It was the Mother of the Eucharist who invited them to repeat Jesus’ act because on the night of Holy Thursday the great passion began and the Lord was then killed; even if Jesus has risen and showed sometimes to the apostles, a sustained and persevering presence was that of Mary who, besides being a mother, as we like to call her, she is also a teacher and was the mother and teacher of the apostles, of the first bishops and the first priests.

I entrust all these thoughts to your heart. Now get completely immersed in prayer and reflection, raising a thanksgiving hymn to Jesus for having given Himself to us in the most humble, simplest and intimate way, which is to be present under the appearances of bread. Remember that after the consecration it is no longer bread, but it is Body, Blood, Soul and mysterious yet real Divinity of Christ. Now let's prepare ourselves for the ritual of washing of feet.