The Fifth Luminous Mystery
The Institution of the Eucharist
In John 6:51, while Jesus was teaching the Jews at the synagogue in Capharnaum, He gave us the first Eucharistic Doctrine. He called Himself “The Bread of Life”.
“I Myself am the Living Bread come down from heaven. If anyone eats this bread, he shall live forever; the bread I will give is My Flesh, for the life of the world.’
At this the Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, ‘How can he give us his flesh to eat?’ Thereupon Jesus said to them:
‘Let Me solemnly assure you, if you do not eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood, you have no life in you.’”
After saying this, He lost most of His followers. They couldn’t live with this statement. Jesus, God-Man, had to have known what would happen. In His humanness, He knew what He should do. But He knew what He had to do. It would have been so much easier for Him to call them all back, and say “Wait a minute. I wasn’t serious. I was just testing you.” But He was serious. He couldn’t compromise the truth. He knew the tremendous task He had to accomplish, and the short time available to get it done. If this controversial statement were not true, as so many would have us believe, why did He risk all that He had accomplished? Why was He not willing to back down from it? Even after they questioned Him on it, saying, “This sort of talk is hard to endure. How can anyone take it seriously?”, His comment was “Does it shake your faith?”
Jesus was so firm on this point that He was even willing to lose the Apostles. This was the moment of decision for them. He asked the twelve apostles, “Will you leave Me also?” Peter said, “Where are we to go ? You have the words of everlasting life?”
From Capharnaum to the Cenacle, the cycle is completed. On Holy Thursday evening, in the Upper Room at the Last Supper, we were given the gift, the everlasting gift of the Flesh and Blood of Jesus. We can go to any of the Synoptic Gospel writers. We will quote from St. Luke. In Luke 22:19, we read:
“Then taking bread and giving thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying: ‘This is My Body to be given for you. Do this as a remembrance of Me.’ He did the same with the cup after eating, saying as He did so: ‘This cup is the New Covenant in My Blood, which will be shed for you.” It was after this that Judas left the room to complete his plan for betrayal.
This Eucharistic Doctrine was repeated innumerable times by the three Synoptic Gospel writers, as well as St. John, and St. Paul. It was stressed more than any teaching in Christ’s ministry.
From the early days of the Apostles, after the Resurrection of Our Lord, they were faithful to the Lord’s Command. It is written:
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teachings and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers...Day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts.”
Family, this gift was for you, is for you. Our Lord Jesus gave it to us the night before He died. His thoughts should have been in so many different places, with so many different priorities, but they were with us. He took time on the last day of His life to give Himself to us in this way.
Not only that, but one of the first things He did upon rising from the dead was to affirm the Eucharist with the disciples on the Road to Emmaus. “They recognized Him in the breaking of the bread.”
What is Our Lord Jesus, and our Saintly Pope John Paul trying to tell us? What gift have they given us to bring us through this pilgrimage of life? Jesus gave us His very Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity. John Paul gave us a roadmap to Heaven. Take advantage of both gifts. We love you, but more importantly, Jesus loves you more.