Returning Love for Love

We know from the Catechism of the Catholic Church that the Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ, Second Person of the Holy Trinity, Son of Mary, True God and True Man. The Catechism also says, “At the Last Supper, on the night He was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of His Body and Blood. This He did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until He should come again, and so to entrust to His beloved Spouse, the Church, a memorial of His death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a Paschal banquet ‘in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us’”[1].  Notice how the Most Holy Eucharist is called “the Sacrament of love”! In each tabernacle throughout the world, Jesus remains a prisoner simply because He loves us. What does Jesus do in the tabernacle? He waits for us, He hopes that we will come to see Him, speak with Him, confide to Him our joys, sorrows, worries, and burdens. He desires to be our Best Friend with whom we share everything! In the gospel of St. Mathew, Jesus says, “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for you souls”. (Matt 11:28-29) His Heart is overflowing with grace and mercy for each of us. He is there in the tabernacle, waiting eagerly to pour them out upon the souls that come to Him.

However, very often Jesus is left alone. He is treated as a dead object or only as a symbol. He comes to our hearts in Holy Communion, wanting to fill them with gifts and graces, but we often don’t even think of Him at the moment of receiving Him, very little does anyone tell Him that they love Him and really mean it, and many don’t even take care to purify their souls from sin in the sacrament of confession in preparation for His coming. And what hurts Him the most, is that many people are afraid of Him, afraid to approach Him, afraid of showing Him their sins and weaknesses, afraid of what He’ll ask for or “take away from them”.

St. Maria Faustina Kowalska was a polish nun who lived in the 20th century and whom Jesus named secretary of His mercy and to whom He entrusted the message of Divine Mercy for the whole world. To her Jesus complained sorrowfully, “The flames of mercy are burning Me-clamoring to be spent; I want to keep pouring them out upon souls; souls just don’t want to believe in My goodness”[2]. And again, “The flames of mercy are burning Me. I desire to pour them out upon human souls. Oh, what pain they cause Me when they do not want to accept them! My daughter…tell aching mankind to snuggle close to My merciful Heart, and I will fill it with peace. Tell [all people] …that I am Love and Mercy itself. When a soul approaches Me with trust, I fill it with such an abundance of graces that it cannot contain them within itself but radiates them to other souls”[3].

The Eucharist is first and foremost the Sacrament of Love-Divine Love! All the Love of God who became Incarnate, was crucified, and died for us is contained in the Eucharist! He offers us this love continually. But He is treated so coldly and with much carelessness in the Most Holy Sacrament. Can it be that Love Itself is not loved?!

How can we grow in love for our dear Jesus in the Eucharist? Here are some suggestions: firstly, we should receive Him as often as possible, while being first in the state of grace and preparing our hearts to receive Him by the sacrament of confession. Jesus longs to come into our souls. We should not be afraid to receive Him. Secondly, we should visit Him in the tabernacle as often as we can, even if it’s just for a few minutes to tell Him that we love Him and to thank Him for remaining there for us. Thirdly, we should treat others with charity and kindness, because the Eucharist is the Sacrament of Love and the fount of charity, and this love cannot remain unfruitful but rather must pour itself out upon others through us.

Perhaps some do not know how to make a visit to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament or are not sure what they should say. We can tell Him anything and everything! We can thank Him for the blessings He continually gives us, share with Him what happens to us or to those whom we love, confide the secrets of our hearts to Him, and ask Him for our needs and those of others. But sometimes words aren’t necessary when we are before Christ in the Eucharist. There is a story told about St. John Vianney, an 19th century French priest who spent most of his priestly ministry in a small village named Ars. One day, St. John Vianney entered the church only to find an older man simply sitting in the pew looking at the tabernacle. He didn’t have any prayer book nor did it seem that he was saying any sort of prayer with his lips. This happened for the next few days until St. John Vianney became very curious as to what this man was doing in the church. One day he asked him, “What do you do when you come to the church and sit here in the pew?” The man answered, “I look at Jesus, and He looks at me.” What a wonderful example of prayer! This man, who perhaps did not even know how to read or write was practicing a very high form of prayer by simply “looking at Him” and letting himself be looked at by Christ, and in this way the great love of God for this man and this man’s love for God were communicated, heart to heart. Sometimes words are not necessary to pray. We can simply gaze at the Sacramental Jesus and let Him gaze at us. When we love someone, sometimes that is all that is needed to express a deep and understanding love. When we are silent before the tabernacle, we will be more able to listen and hear His voice, not with our ears, but with our hearts. It is good to speak with Jesus, but we also need to listen when He speaks to us.

May Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, help us to return the great love we receive from our Jesus in the tabernacle, who waits for us with His Pierced Heart open wide for us, ready to embrace us at the very moment we come to Him with trust. May she, who was the very first tabernacle in history teach us to love Jesus as she did.

[1] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1323

[2] Kowalska, F. (2011). Diary of St. Faustina. Stockbridge: Marian Press. (1987), 177

[3] Op.cit., 1074

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