BY Father Mateo Crawley-Boevey, SS.CC.
JESUS IN THE BLESSED SACRAMENT
Jesus Christus … hodie: ipse et in saecula.
(Hebr. xiii, 8.)
“Jesus Christ … today: and the same for ever.”
HIS “hour” had come, He had to leave His brethren and return to the Father; “having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them unto the end.” (v. John, xiii, 1.) What an excess and sublime madness of love these words betray!
He was to be baptized with the baptism of blood, for which He had longed (Luke xii, 50 cf. xxii, 15.) and His death was about to break the chain which detained Him in exile with his “filioli,” His “little children” and His friends. His love could not accept this separation. Up to that moment His Heart had been victorious. From the bosom of the Father to the threshold of death It had surmounted every barrier. In dying He could not resign Himself to leaving merely the traces of His steps and the echo of His voice in the Gospel. “My Soul is sorrowful even unto death,” (Mark xiv, 34.) He said. And why? Not only, nor even principally, because we should be left orphaned and bereft, but for another reason a thousand times sublimer and more beautiful.
During the thirty-three years of His mortal life, His Heart had taken deep root in this earth of His, His Fatherland, His Mother’s cradle and His own. Except for the Heavenly Father, all the objects of His love were here below: His home, the Immaculate Mother, St. Joseph, His Apostles, His brethren and His friends. He drew from a human source the Blood He was to shed. An eternal throne is His above — He is the Lamb of God. But, having paid an infinite price for those other thrones of His, the Crib of Bethlehem and the Cross of Calvary — He could not leave for ever the world where He fought the great fight and won His victory of love, He, the Lamb of God Who taketh away the sin of the world. (John i, 29.) His Heart prompted Him to stay. He has no need of anyone, since He is God, yet He seemed to need our company. “Having loved us, He loved us unto the end,” (John xiii, 1.) unto that utmost limit which we call the Eucharist! His Heart conquered Him and forced Him to continue His pilgrimage as the companion of His brethren in body and in soul, in His humanity and divinity, until the consummation of the world.
In His daily life in Bethlehem, Nazareth, Samaria, Galilee, and on every page of the Gospel you find Him “meek and humble of heart,” (Matt. xi, 29.) full of mercy and compassion. The Holy Narrative does not close with the death of Jesus, for the Gospel of His love is continued in the Tabernacle; Jesus, the same Jesus, is living today in His Eucharist. For the Jesus of Bethlehem and Calvary is also the living Jesus of the consecrated Host. In both He is our Brother, the Son of God and of Our Blessed Mother. He is the eternal Christ, ever dwelling with us and sharing our lives.
I have already spoken of His triple transfiguration, namely in the Crib, on Calvary, and in the Sacred Host. The latter, which will take place until the end of time, is especially destined to transfigure our souls by a miracle of love. The altar stone is another cradle, the altar a new Thabor. The sacramental species, like swaddling clothes, bind Him, making Him helpless and, as His Blessed Mother bore Him in her hands and gave Him to the shepherds and the Kings, so the priest carries Him from the altar to the communicants. He is still more annihilated in the Tabernacle than He was in Bethlehem but He is the same Jesus. As for us, we are in a sense more fortunate than the neighbors and passers by who could see Him, smile at Him and embrace Him; for, to quote Bossuet’s beautiful expression, “we can devour Him out of love for Him while He devours us,” and this thousands of times. Oh, how adorable is the helplessness of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament! What a lesson in humility and abandonment He gives us in the Host!
In the Gospel we read about Jesus, Child, Youth and Artisan at Nazareth. Here in our churches, His dwelling has changed its name and size; it is much smaller and is now called the Tabernacle; but, as in Nazareth, He is “semper vivens ad interpellandum pro nobis,” (Heb. vii, 25.) living in perpetual prayer before the Father ever interceding for us and saving us.
Here, as in Bethany, He dwells in loving intimacy with His faithful friends; here we pour forth our peaceful tears and seek the Master’s consolations. How many Magdalens, how many Lazaruses, have been brought to life by the secret, mystical virtue emanating from Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
Here, too, is Jacob’s Well and, ever seated on its curb, is the Eternal Watchman of Israel, that Savior athirst for souls, that Shepherd of straying hearts
Who once said to the Samaritan woman: “I thirst, give Me to drink.” (John iv, 7.) Hither, to the brink of that well, come, consciously or unconsciously, a countless succession of souls with parched lips, yearning for happiness, athirst for peace. Here they find the “Fountain of water springing up into life everlasting.” (John iv, 14.) They drink of it and are no longer athirst for worldly things, but are instead consumed with an unquenchable thirst, that of loving Him, the Love of all loves! Nothing is changed, neither the well, nor the woman of Samaria, least of all Jesus!
Alas, the Tabernacle perpetuates, not only the Divine Nazarene’s moments of sunshine and victory, but also His sad hours, when the powers of darkness are loosed upon Him. Thus, the Tabernacle is still the prison of that Holy Thursday, the gloomy dungeon of infamy, where Our Lord, abandoned to the mockeries of the guard, suffered all the insults, all the malicious taunts, all the outrages of which a brutal soldiery inflamed with drink is capable. Mark this, Apostles of the Heart of Jesus: all the cruelties and insults inflicted on our King on that first Maundy Thursday are less than a single thorn in comparison to the terrible crown of profanations, sacrileges, loneliness, desertion, treacheries and hate which He has daily received during the twenty centuries of His imprisoned sacramental life. Let us try to compare the deliberate and sacrilegious profanations of the millions of Judases who receive Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament on purpose to wound and despise Him — simply because He is Jesus — with the stupid and brutal ignorance of the High Priest’s palace guard, we shall see that the Tabernacle is far more a monument of living love and pain than was the prison in Caiaphas’ house. But the outraged Jesus is the same in both. This Sacred Dungeon of the Tabernacle will never fall into decay, and He Who is eternally profaned will ever continue to be our Prisoner of Love.
Among the dark hours of Jesus — yesterday and today — surely the darkest and most terrible are those He spent during His Agony in the Garden and those of His Eucharistic life. He has ever before Him the same vision of sin, the same bitter chalice, the same lethargy of those who call themselves His friends, the same diligent activity of the undying race of traitors, ever on the watch and prompt to act. And here I would remind you, zealous apostles, of what Jesus Himself asked of His servant Margaret Mary in connection with this hour of Gethsemane, namely the Holy Hour. Be faithful to this homage of love and then seek out fervent friends to join you. Thus you will give a loving and beautiful denial to that complaint of His: “I looked for one that would comfort Me, and I found none.” (Ps. lxviii, 21.) A complaint that is fundamentally the same as that in the garden: “Could you not watch One Hour with Me?” (Matt. xxvi, 40.) Show real enthusiasm, make every sacrifice, in order to multiply the number of those who, by day and by night, adore Him in the Blessed Sacrament, and let this be done in a spirit of reparation and for the extension of the Reign of the Sacred Heart.
Our Lord said: “If I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all things to Myself.” (John xii, 32.) Here He is perpetually lifted up from the earth, on the permanent Calvary of the Altar in a never-ceasing and mystical immolation of love. May the ever-faithful God fulfil His promise to draw all things to His adorable Person and may numberless souls ever be attracted to Him, ever present in the Blessed Sacrament. He conquered on the Cross. May the same Victim, the same Jesus, consummate His victory upon the Altar.
His Heart, “yesterday, today, and the same for ever,” never changes in Its affection, Its tenderness, Its predilections. That which He loved yesterday He continues to love today. From the Altar He gently calls the poor, the sad, the outcast. From the depths of the Tabernacle He is ever stretching out His Arms to those who are hungering for justice and for love. From the Host He is ever smiling and blessing the little ones of His flock, the simple of heart and the children, His great friends. The grace which has brought you here today shows that His Heart has not changed in any way. Yesterday He had His special friends. You, apostles of His Sacred Heart, are such today. He died for all, He calls us all, but He does not show to all the affection He manifested to His little group of intimate friends. He loved Lazarus, Martha and Mary more than the multitudes whom He met upon the road; among the Apostles He gave preference to Peter and James, but loved John with a special and greater love; so He loves you, too, and apportions to you a superabundance of grace and love, so that you in your tum may give these to others, as the heralds and the messengers of His Divine Heart. Accept then, with humility and great generosity, a glory and a happiness which are not of your seeking, and endeavor to repay Him by corresponding with great docility to His designs.
Since you are more intimate with Jesus than are many others — learn in this retreat the science of the saints, scire … supereminentem scientiae charitatem Christi, “to know the charity of Christ which surpasseth all knowledge.” (Eph. iii, 19.) In real intimacy with Him, accept, like Margaret Mary, any confidences, desires or requests He may impart to you and may your absolute fidelity win for you the fulfilment of His promises. May you be ever able to repeat before the Tabernacle and with your last breath those words of St. Bonaventure: “I have found the Heart of the King, of the Brother and of the Friend in Thy Heart, O most sweet Jesus!”
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