March 16, 2023
Dear Parishioners and Friends of St. John’s,
Jesus first teaches us how to live generously and humbly by the washing of feet. We as human beings already have the desire to love our neighbor, and we even want to be more excellent in our love by giving of ourselves as Jesus did. Yet we find ourselves struggling from time to time to love one another. We know that we want to be Christlike with our family, coworkers, and friends, but we lose our patience, we lose our temper, or just out of selfishness we omit the good we could do. So, to aid us in loving one another, Jesus institutes the Eucharist, the second integral event that took place in the Upper Room. Here, Jesus gives Himself totally to us in the Eucharist—body, blood, soul, and divinity. There is no part of Him that He holds back from us. He gives Himself away one hundred percent.
The Eucharist is intimately connected to the Crucifixion because it is on the cross that we see Jesus giving Himself for us, and it is Jesus hanging on the cross that gives meaning to the words He said at the Last Supper. “TAKE THIS, ALL OF YOU, AND EAT OF IT, FOR THIS IS MY BODY, WHICH WILL BE GIVEN UP FOR YOU.” “TAKE THIS, ALL OF YOU, AND DRINK FROM IT, FOR THIS IS THE CHALICE OF MY BLOOD, THE BLOOD OF THE NEW AND ETERNAL COVENANT, WHICH WILL BE POURED OUT FOR YOU AND FOR MANY FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS. DO THIS IN MEMORY OF ME.”
There is nothing more that Jesus could give us than His very self in the Eucharist, and we get the honor of receiving Him when we go to communion. We receive all the self-giving love of Jesus, which fills us with the divine love necessary to love our neighbor to wash their feet. As Jesus was “obedient to death, even death on the cross”, so we die to self as we strive to love beyond our normal capacity. Every time we reach the limit of what we can give, we can go back to Jesus who gives Himself totally in the Eucharist so that we can be nourished and filled by the love He offers to us and continue to love beyond ourselves.
As human beings, we often connect food with love. We share food with the ones we love because we want to sustain them and see them grow. Even when we share food with strangers it conveys the same message, “I love you and I want to sustain you and see you grow.” Jesus comes to us in the form of bread and wine which signifies that He Himself is the source of our life, and He is the one that sustains it. It is by receiving Him that we grow little by little into saints He made us to be, and as we grow we become more capable of that self-giving love.
In the Mass, we celebrate and remember Jesus’s love for us on the Cross. We do that by re-presenting the Last Supper, where Jesus gave meaning to the self-gift He was about to make in His Passion. It is as if we were with Jesus and His disciples in the Upper Room as He makes the greatest act of love. “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Jesus shares the fullness of divine love with us through the Eucharist and when we receive Him, we receive the power of divine love to go forth and to love as God does. To lay down our lives for our family, our friends, our coworkers, and anyone that the Lord places in our life. The best part is every time we reach the limit of our capability to love, we can always go back to Jesus in the Eucharist so He may refresh and sustain us, as we continue to stretch ourselves and become other Christs. We can do this by being men and women who are willing to selflessly give all of themselves for the love of God and our neighbor.
Father Joseph Nguyễn