I attended the Holy Thursday mass this evening with my son David. I have always loved the Holy Thursday service - it is a celebration of the institution of the Eucharist - the core of our Catholic faith. I was invited by our Pastoral Minister a few weeks ago to be one of the twelve who has their feet washed in the re-enactment of that scene from the Last Supper in St. John's Gospel. I was honored and humbled by the invitation even if it did make me suddenly self-conscious about my feet! My original intention was to go alone to the service, but David wanted to come along and I certainly wasn't about to turn down a request to go to Church.
He was actually very good despite the longer-than-usual mass. He has also become very inquisitive about the Eucharist. He is looking forward to making his First Communion and feels badly that he has to wait two more years. (I can relate - I remember being 4 years old and desperately wanting to be able to take part in communion). This evening, he was asking me, "Is it really Jesus?" and "How does he get into the bread?" and "If you eat his whole body, is Jesus all gone?" So, on the way home we had a conversation about the Eucharist. I tried to explain "Transubstantiation" (the big name for changing the bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus) in a way that he could understand. I told him that the bread and wine still look and taste the same but that when the priest says the prayers of blessing and holds up the bread and the cup of wine, something in them changes to make it the body and blood of Christ so that Jesus can come into our hearts in a very special way. I also assured him that we wouldn't run out of Jesus. Jesus can be in all the Eucharist all over the world and never ever run out. I told him it was a miracle, that every time we go to Church we get to witness a miracle. He seemed to comprehend.
It's all too easy to forget that a miracle is taking place right before our eyes at mass. We have seen it so many times, we take it for granted. But the Eucharist is a tremendous gift, and today is a day to remember the day the gift was first given.