In the Gospel of John, Jesus tells His disciples, “If you love me, you will keep My commandments.” And though, in our human weakness, we fail to follow the Lord’s commands, there is one commandment that has been obeyed by countless Christians throughout the ages.
This week on St. Joseph’s Workshop, Fr. Matthew Spencer, OSJ shared an article that he read by Fr. Dwight Longenecker which referred to the fact that the celebration of the Eucharist is done in obedience to Christ’s command to “Do this in memory of Me.” Fr. Longenecker’s article quotes from Dom Gregory Dix who wrote:
Was ever another command so obeyed? For century after century, spreading slowly to every continent and country and among every race on earth, this action has been done, in every conceivable human circumstance, for every conceivable human need from infancy and before it to extreme old age and after it, from the pinnacle of earthly greatness to the refuge of fugitives in the caves and dens of the earth. Men have found no better thing than this to do for kings at their crowning and for criminals going to the scaffold; for armies in triumph or for a bride and bridegroom in a little country church.
“That really made me stop and think,” Fr. Matthew said. “My goodness, this command of Jesus to do this in memory of Me, to continue His presence in the Most Holy Eucharist down through the generations, has been observed in every part of the earth, in nearly every language spoken by mankind.”
“From the beginning of life to the end, in triumph and in great failure, in times of the greatest joy and times of the greatest sorrow, the Eucharist has been celebrated,” he continued. “And we continue to do that, to celebrate the sacrament of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus.”
Fr. Matthew suggested that this command of Jesus to “Do this in memory of Me” is perhaps the most obeyed because it is one of the most important commandments. The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life, and is that toward which Catholics orient their entire lives.
“The Eucharist is something so amazing, something so important, that without it the Church would not exist,” Fr. Matthew said. “Without the Eucharist, you and I would never be fully initiated into the Christian life. Without the Eucharist we wouldn’t even be able to continue in this life. It’s because of the Eucharist that you and I can have such an intimate encounter with Jesus.”
“We need to return to the Eucharist, to the source and summit of our Christian life,” he encouraged listeners. “We need to realize that Jesus wants to give Himself Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity to every one of us. If only we could be prepared for that encounter fully, we would realize how amazing that moment would be. We would never take it for granted again. We would profit from it immeasurably and we would become the saints that God wants us to be.”
Listen to the full reflection below: