Holy Thursday

As I travel I'm always on the lookout for good religious art, particularly images of the Sacred Heart. Last year, while giving a parish mission in the Peoria Diocese, I visited the Community of St. John. I came across a painting in a meeting room there and someone I was with took a photo for me on his cell phone and sent me a copy. Unfortunately, I have no information about the artist and origin of the painting, nor does the Community have any reproductions.


This picture of the Last Supper shows John drawing near to Jesus whose Heart appears as the Eucharist. Both the Heart of Jesus and the Eucharist are important for the Apostleship of Prayer. The Second Vatican Council called the Eucharist "the source and summit of the Christian life." All Christians are called to make an offering of their lives (see Romans 12: 1), joining their offering to the perfect offering of Jesus on the cross. This offering is made present for us to see and to unite ourselves to in every Mass.

But to offer all, to live the Eucharist in our daily lives, is humanly impossible. At the Last Supper Peter relied on himself and proudly declared that he would offer all, giving his life by loyally standing with Jesus to the end. We know what happened that very night.

John, on the other hand, drew near to the Heart of Jesus at the Last Supper. He found there the greatest love the world has ever known. And, as the Song of Songs (8: 6-7) says:

For stern as death is love,
relentless as the nether world is devotion;
its flames are a blazing fire.
Deep waters cannot quench love,
nor floods sweep it away.

This love gave John the courage to act against his fears and to remain loyal to Jesus to the end, standing under the cross with Mother Mary.

It is this Heart brimming with true love and devotion that we now find in the Eucharist. This evening the Church invites us to spend some time in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. We draw near, as Pope John Paul II put it in his apostolic letter Mane Nobiscum Domine, "ready to wait patiently to hear his voice and, as it were, to sense the beating of his heart" (#18).

Come, let us adore Jesus and find in his Eucharistic Heart the love and courage to faithfully offer ourselves one day at a time to the end.