(Slightly modified version of a March 28, 2013 post)
When Jesus told His followers that unless they ate His Body and drank His Blood, they could not have eternal life, large numbers left and never returned. Their initial repulsion to this direction was understandable: who would want to eat the flesh and drink the blood of another living human being?
Yet, many had come to believe that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah. They had either heard of or actually witnessed countless miracles evidencing His Divine nature. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Why did they not realize that He would never ask the impossible of them or fail to provide them the means with which to fulfill His command?
His apostles had no greater understanding of, or fondness, for what Jesus was commanding them to do. But when Jesus asked them if they too would leave, Peter, answering for himself and for the other apostles save for Judas, replied: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
So they stepped out in faith, accepting this “difficult” teaching without fully understanding it. Their faith was rewarded at the Last Supper when Jesus, using the basic elements of a common meal - bread and wine – transformed the substance (but not the outward appearance of those items), into His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, gave them to His apostles to eat and to drink, and empowered His newly ordained priests and their legitimate successors to do likewise. This world has never been the same.
[Today] This Holy Thursday as we commemorate the institution of the Eucharist, the ordained priesthood and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we would do well to spend a few minutes reviewing and reflecting on the three questions and answers that follow.
What is a priest?
“What is a priest? We must begin by purifying ourselves before purifying others; we must be instructed to be able to instruct, become light to illuminate, draw closer to God to bring Him close to others; be sanctified to sanctify; lead by the hand and counsel prudently. I know whose ministers we are, where we find ourselves and to where we strive. I know God’s greatness and man’s weakness, but also his potential. The priest is the defender of truth, who stands with angels, gives glory with archangels, causes sacrifices to rise to the altar on high, shares Christ’s priesthood, refashions creation, restores it in God’s image, recreates it for the world on high and, even greater, is divinized and divinizes.” – St. Gregory of Nazianzus
What Is The Eucharist?
“Material food first changes into the one who eats it, and then, as a consequence, restores to him his lost strength and increases his vitality. Spiritual food, on the other hand, changes the person who eats it into itself. Thus the effect proper to this sacrament is the conversion of a man into Christ, so that he may no longer live, but Christ lives in him; consequently, it has the double effect of restoring the spiritual strength he had lost by his sins and defects, and of increasing the strength of his virtues." – St. Thomas Aquinas
What Is The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass?
"When the Host is held on high and a chalice lifted…look up! Look up and see what Mary saw. See a naked man squirming as He bleeds against a blackened sky; see a battered human body, writhing on a tree, prisoned there by savage spikes that have torn through Sacred hands and feet; see thorn-tortured head tossing from side to side as anguished torso labors, lifts and strains; see the eyes of God roll towards heaven beseeching, as broken lips blurt out that soul piercing cry: “My God, My God, Why has Thou forsaken Me?” What is this? This is the Mass. This is Crucifixion. This is what Mary saw at the elevation of Christianity’s first Mass. This is what you should see at the Elevation of every Mass!" – Father M. Raymond, O.C.S.O.
May I suggest one additional thing for you to do? Right now and several times every day hereafter, pray for all our priests, pray that they will become holy priests whose lives will be centered upon and devoted to the Eucharist, and pray that they will embrace and fully live their call to be “another Christ”.