Nine Days to Christ the King: Day 6

Meditation Day 6: Christ, Our Eucharistic King

When the hour came, he took his place at table with the apostles. He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer, for, I tell you, I shall not eat it (again) until there is fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and said, “Take this and share it among yourselves; for I tell you (that) from this time on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you” (Luke 22:14-20).

REFLECTION

“I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you.” Scripture scholars point out that a closer translation of the original text would be something along the lines of “with desire I have desired….” Jesus is expressing a deeply felt, almost inexpressible emotion as he opens his heart to his disciples at the table of the Last Supper. 

What is it that he desires? He desires to eat this Passover with his loved ones. His words refer not only to his longing to cherish this intimate moment to the full before facing the cruelty of his Passion, although this can certainly be implied. This Passover meal is to be more than an ancient ritual celebration. Jesus himself is to be the Passover lamb, sacrificed to bring salvation to the world. His blood is to be the blood marking the doorposts, bringing salvation to all who partake of it. His longing is most profoundly a longing to sacrifice himself to bring us life.

And at this meal, he himself is going to freely offer the sacrifice of his Body and Blood, which on the morrow will be lived out in all its brutality. The sacrifice to be offered is one and the same.

Jesus takes the bread. He takes the wine. These are elements significant not only for their prominence in the ritual meal but also for their origins. Bread is made through the crushing of wheat, wine through the crushing of grapes. Jesus himself is to be crushed so as to give life to the many.

“Take and eat,” he tells us. “This is my body.” “Take and drink. This is my blood poured out for you.” Here in the Eucharist, it becomes abundantly clear that our Lord’s kingship is not in the least self-serving. Ever seeking to be close to us, to make himself available to serve us, he takes yet a further step in lowering himself for our sakes. As he takes on the appearances of bread and wine, he is giving the gift of himself, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity—all that he is. With all the power and glory that is his due, he chooses to empty himself completely and become our nourishment. 

When we receive the Eucharist, the Church Fathers teach us, we are transformed into the one we receive. As St. Augustine wrote of Christ: “I am the food of grown men; grow then, and you will feed on me. Nor will you change me into yourself like bodily food, but you will be changed into me.” Our King has chosen to become our food so that he might share his own kingship with us. He wishes for us to reign with him in heaven for all eternity, and in order to make this possible, he himself comes to live in us. It is his burning desire that we might come to the feast and partake of this sustenance. He is longing to be intimately united to each one of us.

Having had the privilege of being invited to share the Eucharistic banquet, each of us is called to allow ourselves to be challenged and transformed by our call to share in his kingship.

“Take and eat.” We eat the flesh of him whose body was given, even broken, for others. We are called to learn from him what it means to share his kingship. He invites us to allow his presence in us to become a gift for others. It is true that we may sometimes feel that we have little to offer. Yet, no Christian who has partaken of the Eucharistic feast can claim to have nothing to give to others. Jesus Christ, the supreme gift, living within us, longs to be given again and again through us.

“Take and drink.” The sacred blood shed for us has mixed with our own. Jesus’s blood pours over us in every Eucharistic feast, healing us and making us capable of becoming gifts for others. 

As we continue to prepare for the feast of Christ the King, we meditate on Our Lord’s gift of himself to us in the Eucharist. We contemplate the truth that we are made to share in his kingship through our partaking of his Body and Blood. We pray that our reception of our Eucharistic King might strengthen us and transform us into living gifts for others. By our allowing him to love others through us, may Christ Our King reign more fully in those with whom we come in contact.

  • What “movements of the heart” do I experience when I meditate on the mystery of the Eucharist and contemplate my King robed in the appearances of simple bread and wine? What is it about this mystery that particularly speaks to me?
  • In the Eucharist, Christ Our King reigns in the unmeasured gift of self. How might I allow him to transform me more fully into a gift to others?
  • Is there a specific way in which I sense that Christ is inviting me to more fully allow him to be a gift to others through me?

PRAYER

Christ, my Eucharistic King, you have given yourself completely to me. I ask you to reign more fully in my heart each time I receive you in Holy Communion. Transform me and heal me so that I, like you, might become a living gift for others. 

Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart more like yours.

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The Kingdom without End:
A Retreat Guide on Christ the King

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