Reading Pope Benedict VXI’s address on The Eucharist and Love from September 2005:
Continuing with the reflection on the Eucharistic mystery, heart of Christian life, today I would like to emphasize the bond between the Eucharist and charity. Love — “agape” in Greek, “caritas” in Latin — does not mean first of all a charitable act or sentiment, but the spiritual gift, the love of God that the Holy Spirit infuses in the human heart and that leads in turn to giving oneself to God himself and to one’s neighbor.
The whole of Jesus’ earthly existence, from his conception until his death on the cross, was an act of love, to the point that we can summarize our faith in these words: “Jesus, caritas” — Jesus, love. In the Last Supper, knowing that his hour had come, the divine Master gave his disciples the supreme example of love, washing their feet, and entrusted to them his precious legacy, the Eucharist, in which the whole paschal mystery is centered, as the venerated Pope John Paul II wrote in the encyclical “Ecclesia de Eucharistia.” Take and eat, all of you, because this is my Body,” “Take and drink all of you, because this is the cup of my Blood.”
Jesus’ words in the cenacle anticipated his death and manifested the consciousness with which he faced it, transforming it into a gift of himself, in the act of love that gives itself totally. In the Eucharist, the Lord gives himself to us with his body, with his soul and with his divinity, and we become one with him and among ourselves.
Our response to his love therefore must be concrete, and must be expressed in a genuine conversion to love, in forgiveness, in reciprocal acceptance and in attention for the needs of all. Many and varied are the forms of service that we can offer our neighbor in everyday life, if we pay a little attention. The Eucharist becomes in this way the source of the spiritual energy that renews our life every day and, in this way, renews the love of Christ to the world.