“The Lord Jesus on the night in which He was betrayed took bread, and after He had given thanks, broke it and said, ‘This is My body, which is for you.’ ” —1 Corinthians 11:23-24
God became a human being. “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us” (Jn 1:14). The Lord emptied Himself (Phil 2:7). He became like us in all things but sin (Heb 4:15). God became a human embryo, baby, toddler, little child, teenager, etc. God washed the feet of His disciples (Jn 13:5) and continues to do so today (see Heb 13:8). God emptied and humbled Himself even to death on a cross (Phil 2:8).
Then the God-Man did the unthinkable. He emptied and humbled Himself to the point that He gave us His body and blood, His soul and divinity under the appearances of bread and wine. In the Eucharist, Jesus, Who had emptied Himself of His divinity, now appears to have emptied Himself even of His humanity. When Jesus took a piece of bread and a cup of wine and said: “This is My body. This is My blood” (see 1 Cor 11:24, 25), He uttered one of the most shocking statements ever made.
Why the Incarnation? Why the Crucifixion? Why the Eucharist? “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him may not die but may have eternal life” (Jn 3:16). “God is Love” (1 Jn 4:16). Love Him.
Prayer: God, Love incarnate (1 Jn 4:16), I decide to love You with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind, and all my strength (Lk 10:27). May I love You with all my life, as You mean “all.”
Promise: “This day shall be a memorial feast for you, which all your generations shall celebrate with pilgrimage to the Lord, as a perpetual institution.” —Ex 12:14
Praise: “O Sacrament most holy, O Sacrament divine, all praise and all thanksgiving be every moment Thine.”
“Judas Iscariot went off to the chief priests.” —Matthew 26:14
Judas was accustomed to being an intimate friend of Jesus and having privileged access to Him. Nonetheless, during the most important week in the lives of both Judas and Jesus, Judas dialogued with the chief priests instead of with Jesus. Judas deferred to the chief priests as a higher “authority” than Jesus, handing his loyalty over to the chief priests instead of to Jesus, the Lord of the universe.
Adam and Eve were accustomed to being intimate friends of God in the garden of Eden. They had privileged access to the Lord. Nonetheless, Adam and Eve dialogued in the garden with the serpent (Satan) instead of with God. They deferred to Satan’s “authority” over the tree of life rather than God’s.
In this holiest of weeks, learn from the mistakes of Adam, Eve, Judas, and a great many people over the centuries. When it comes to the Passion of Christ, you are either with Jesus or against Jesus (Lk 11:23). Give the Lord absolute loyalty over your heart and tongue. Give Jesus your sympathy (Ps 69:21). Dialogue with God and not the forces opposed to Him. Jesus tells each one of us: “Come to Me” (Mt 11:28).
Prayer: Father, be the Lord of my heart and my loyalties. “Keep me faithful to Your teaching and never let me be parted from You.”
Promise: “The Lord God is my help, therefore I am not disgraced.” —Is 50:7
Praise: Praise You, Lord Jesus, for Your constant, never-failing love for me and for all people. I worship You with my life.
“You will lay down your life for Me, will you?” —John 13:38
Peter promised Jesus he would lay down his life for Him (Jn 13:37). That same night, Peter lay weeping bitterly after realizing he had denied Jesus three times (Lk 22:62). Judas probably didn’t intend to betray Jesus when he began following Him. Yet he allowed his love for Jesus to erode to the extent that Satan could enter his heart at the moment when Jesus reached out to him in love (Jn 13:26-27).
We too can deny or betray Jesus if we focus on our own desires rather than His. “When we deny Him by our deeds, we in some way seem to lay violent hands on Him” (Catechism, 598). Jesus showed Peter and all of us how to lay down our lives in love:
Jesus could have enjoyed the bliss of heaven with His Father, but He came to earth to save us. In His public ministry, Jesus had “nowhere to lay His head” (Lk 9:58). However, He focused not on His own comfort, but on laying down His life for us, His helpless sheep (Jn 10:11).
“The Lord laid upon [Jesus] the guilt of us all” (Is 53:6). “For the sake of the joy which lay before Him He endured the cross, heedless of its shame” (Heb 12:2). Jesus let a painful crown of thorns and a heavy cross be laid upon His head and shoulders (Jn 19:2, 17). Jesus overlooked the fact that no one was present to lay down their life for Him (see Mk 14:50) and painfully persevered in laying down His life for those He loved (Jn 15:13).
During this Holy Week, allow Jesus to lay bare Your heart. Repent deeply and lay your sins before Him in Confession. Lay your life at Jesus’ feet (Lk 17:16) and follow Him to the cross.
Prayer: Jesus, “I will lay down my life for You!” (Jn 13:37)
Promise: “I will make you a light to the nations, that My salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” —Is 49:6
Praise: Praise Jesus, Who gave up His all to give us all.