We adore you O Christ, and we praise you,
because by your Holy Cross you have redeemed the world
For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes. (1 Cor 11: 23-26)
The only time I ever got to witness someone die right before my eyes was when my aunt slowly succumbed to cancer. We had months to prepare for that sad event, but it was still painful to see someone you love slowly fade away. We tried to offer her help, asking her what we could do to relieve her of her physical pain. She did not ask anything for herself. Instead, she just mentioned one request: that everyone in the family come together and see her for the final time. This we all did promptly, and the minutes we spent assuring one another with words of support and love form part of my best childhood memories.
It is often said that what a dying person does and what she says before she dies speak a lot about who she is and what is important to her. This is very understandable: when you have certain death before you, your most natural instinct is to affirm what it is in life which for you is most important and most beautiful.
Jesus knew he was about to be put to death. What does he do hours before his death? He does not preach to a crowd or perform more miracles. Instead, he gathers friends to a meal where he tells them that they are his friends and that even after this night, they ought to celebrate this friendship.
This is what is important to Jesus, the summary of his three-year ministry, the spirit with which he celebrated the first Eucharist during the Last Supper, and the very heart of the Lenten season: to gather the lost, the least, and the last in friendship with God and with one another.