It was before the festival of the Passover, and Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to pass from this world to the Father. He had always loved those who were his in the world, but now he showed how perfect his love was.
They were at supper, and the devil had already put it into the mind of Judas Iscariot son of Simon, to betray him. Jesus knew that the Father had put everything into his hands, and that he had come from God and was returning to God, and he got up from table, removed his outer garment and, taking a towel, wrapped it round his waist; he then poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel he was wearing.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’ Jesus answered, ‘At the moment you do not know what I am doing, but later you will understand.’ ‘Never!’ said Peter. ‘You shall never wash my feet.’ Jesus replied, ‘If I do not wash you, you can have nothing in common with me.’ ‘Then, Lord,’ said Simon Peter, ‘not only my feet, but my hands and my head as well!’ Jesus said, ‘No one who has taken a bath needs washing, he is clean all over. You too are clean, though not all of you are.’ He knew who was going to betray him, that was why he said, ‘though not all of you are.’
When he had washed their feet and put on his clothes again he went back to the table. ‘Do you understand’ he said ‘what I have done to you? You call me Master and Lord, and rightly; so I am. If I, then, the Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you should wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example so that you may copy what I have done to you.’
As we reflect on the reading of the Last Supper according to John, let us consider these quotes from the Servant of God’s homilies on the Eucharist.
The ultimate measure consists in the most intimate union with us …
… in the Eucharist, he unites himself with each one of us …
… that Jesus, of Bethlehem, of Nazareth, in his public life, in his passion and death, in his glory: he is with us, and your heart beats are his.
That which Jesus does to unite himself to us.
… we have our God so close to us in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar not figuratively, or as a shadow, but in reality
… like a king among his subjects, like a father among his beloved children – like a shepherd among his sheep …
… opted to be with us …
In the Eucharist and Communion, our soul becomes one with the soul of Jesus, his spirit becomes one with our spirit.”
… remains in me and I in him … lives in eternity.
… Jesus is with us …
… I am with you …
… the Wisdom incarnate lives with us in the tabernacle.
… Jesus … continually yearns to be united with us.
… a king who visits his subjects …
Other De Piro quotations about Jesus who becomes personally one with us in the Eucharist are longer:
‘I am with you always, to the end of the age’ (Mt 28:20) I am with you till the end of time. St. Augustine holds that the Eucharist is the extension of the Incarnation; thus the Eucharist has the same objective of the Incarnation, the passion and death of Our Lord. Indeed, the Eucharist is the fulfilment of the Incarnation. This objective is divinely expressed in the Creed that we proclaim during Mass: in it we say that the Son of God came down from heaven and became man. ‘For us men and for our salvation.’ In another place Jesus himself says: I came so that you may have life, and this in abundance.
… Communion is the most intimate union that a creature can have with God. The Eucharist’s ultimate aim is our union with God … Only the Eucharist has union as its immediate objective.
He becomes part of our body, as blood or bone.; he becomes part of our mind with which we think, and part of our heart with which we love. This is how our union with Jesus is achieved in the Eucharist; in this case it is Jesus who attracts us to him and he assimilates us as it is the stronger that assimilates the weaker element. It is precisely because of this that at Communion each of us can repeat with St Paul: ‘I live, yet not me, but Jesus lives in me’…
Now fire acts in a way as to transform everything it attaches to into itself. The effects produced depend on the objects that are burnt, e.g. it warms, boils, makes water evaporate, dries, flares up, chars, incinerates wood, makes red-hot, softens and liquefies iron.
Let us now apply this to what we have been saying. In the Eucharist this fire of divine love inflames all those who, through Communion, get closer to Him and submit themselves to his action.
It is that same Jesus who, a few hours before dying, has instituted this sacrament surrounded by his disciples, and changed the substance of bread and wine into his precious body and blood so that he could remain with us; indeed, his presence is to be with us ‘My delights were to be with the children of men’ (cf Prov 8:31)
He acts like a father who donates himself completely to his children; or like a shepherd who after giving his life for his sheep, keep on feeding them with his flesh. Since the ultimate degree of love is the union of the lover and the loved one, there is no greater intimacy than that between Jesus and a person who receives Communion.