In today's Gospel we hear Jesus Christ say, "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (Jn 15:13).
Before Mass, I was meditating on this verse (which happens to be my favorite), and hear is what I came up with:
This occurred during the Last Supper. John doesn't have the institution of the Eucharist (because it was already well known by the time he wrote his Gospel), rather he gives us the deeper meaning behind Christ's action of instituting the Sacrament of His Body and Blood. Christ is establishing (or rather restoring) the Kingdom. And Just like the Davidic Kingdom (of which Christ is the eternal heir of), the Kingdom Christ brings is established by a covenant. Christ gives us a New Covenant of his Body and Blood. This covenant is to be everlasting.
Yet, Christ's Kingdom is unlike all the other kingdoms that the world knows. His is one of service. Earlier Christ showed His disciples this by washing their feet. Now Christ tells them that they are His friends and that there is no greater love than to lay down one's life for a friend. And that is exactly what Christ does. He offers His life on the Cross for each one of us and calls us His friends. And the Sacrifice at Calvary is the same sacrifice Christ mysteriously made present at the Last Supper, and which is represented in every Catholic Church in the world. Christ performs the ultimate act of service by feeding us with His own Body and Blood. The Eucharist is the greatest Love that Christ gives to us because it is Christ Himself. Christ is the Sacrament of Love. The Sacramentum Caritatis that Pope Benedict wrote about in his Apostolic Exhortation. All of the power of the Kingdom flows forth from the Eucharist!
The Eucharist is at the center of the Kingdom of God, and yet so many take it for granted! So many fail to honor Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. They say it is just a piece of bread. A mere symbol. If only they would see that it is our very own Lord and Savior giving Himself to His friends in the ultimate act of charity. It is Christ who sacrificed Himself for us. And now, through His priests acting in persona Christi, He gives Himself as the life giving bread, the heavenly manna. He fills us with His Divine Life and Love. Why would anyone say no to that?! Even Satan and his followers know that Christ is Really and Truly present in the Eucharist. Satan worshipers break into Catholic churches to desecrate the hosts. They don't bother with Protestant churches because they want the real thing!
Christ calls us His friends and sacrifices His life for us, and then feeds us with that same sacrifice. We need to return that favor, if we truly hold Christ to be our friend, by humbly visiting Him in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and worthily receiving Him in the Eucharist. We also need to imitate Him by sacrificing our lives for God and also for one another. That is the moment of Christian Witness that Balthasar talks about. When we give our lives, in imitation of Christ, for our fellow man without any expectation of repayment or reward. When we love one another as Christ has loved us.