This feast, instituted in the 12th century, seemingly as a response to the controversies concerning the doctrine of the Holy Eucharist, manifests to us one thing that is in the heart of the message of the history of salvation: God is love, a love that is shown in his fidelity to the promises he has made to his people.
The Holy Eucharist—Jesus Christ present whole and entire under the Eucharistic species of bread and wine, body, blood, soul and divinity—is the great sign of God’s fidelity to man. In this great mystery we see the ultimate fulfillment of the promises that had been made in the key episodes of the history of salvation. In them God had promised to Israel that he would be to them a God who would protect them from their enemies, who would take care of them, who would be their shield in the face of their enemies. Israel, in turn, would be his people, one that is peculiarly his own. I will be your God, and you shall be my people (cfr. Ex 6:7ss): this was basically what the covenant between the Lord God and Israel had stipulated, and which formed a unique relationship between God and the people he has called his own. This was a covenant that was sealed with the blood of young bulls. It was a covenant that gave birth to Israel as a nation whose God was the Lord. The history of salvation would come to prove two things: on one hand, that Israel did not always comply to this covenant; on the other, the frequent infidelity of his people emphasized all the more God’s enduring fidelity to the alliance. The history of salvation, seen from this view of the covenant between God and man, is the story of man’s infidelity and the faithfulness of God that is constant and true.
In the sacrifice of the cross Jesus established the new covenant between God and man, and sealed it, not with the blood of animals, but with the blood of the Son of God. This covenant is definitive, it is the new and eternal covenant, one that shall never pass away: God is faithful to his promise to save man from his own destruction, even though each of us may either accept it or not.
In the Eucharist, which the Lord Jesus established on the evening before he suffered and died, we behold the great sign of this covenant. Underneath the mere appearance of bread and wine we see the fulfillment of this promise, that God will always be with us, and that he will always be there for us, no matter what. In the Eucharist the Lord remains among us, so that he may be there whenever we are troubled, whenever we are happy. He remains there, whole and entire—body and blood, soul and divinity—the prisoner of the Tabernacle, so that he could feed us with his life, his very own.
Day and night the Lord Jesus remains under in Eucharistic species, regardless of whether there may be courageous souls with enough love in their hearts to keep him company, or whether he is left alone and abandoned by the people for whom he has offered his life on the cross. This constancy of the love God presents to us the supreme example of fidelity: the Eucharist is in a way the sacrament of God’s fidelity to man. In this great sacrament of love, Jesus, our Eucharist, remains under the appearance of the most humble and simple of things—bread and wine—in order to be near us, in order that he may be easily accessible to us and that we may come near him without hesitation and yet with much faith. We who live in a society that is sophisticated and which is oftentimes marked by deceit and superficiality have Jesus in the Eucharist as our master. In the Eucharist he teaches us that to be faithful not only means that one has to be there, that one has to be able to keep one’s word, but that one has to be accessible and humble. Humility and the fact of just being there for the ones that we love are hallmarks of Christian fidelity. This is what we need to have, especially in our relationships, if we would want them to be truly life giving and fulfilling.
This is another reason why we need to always nourish ourselves with the gift of the Eucharist. For the family that goes to Mass well disposed to receive its graces the Sunday Eucharist is a pledge of unity and love; here the words “the family that prays together stays together” acquire their fullest sense. Once we live a life that is truly Eucharistic, we learn to be like our Lord, who is always there to shower us with his love, the lonely prisoner of the Tabernacle out of love.