A Eucharist which does not pass over into the concrete practice of love is intrinsically fragmented. (Pope Benedict XVI)
During this time of “Eucharistic Revival” that the Bishops of the United States have asked us to observe, it’s good for us to consider the richness of the Holy Eucharist. For indeed the Eucharist is like a diamond with many facets. Hold it up to the light, and each facet reflects light and shines on its own. But taken together, they form a very valuable gem.
So what are the “facets” of the Eucharist? Well, first the Eucharist is the Sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross when he shed his blood for the forgiveness of sins and the redemption of the human race. The Eucharist is a meal, instituted at the Last Supper, in which we eat the Body of Blood of Christ and thus become what we have received. The Eucharist is the comforting presence of Christ with us, his people, as we continue our earthly pilgrimage. And the Eucharist is a proud proclamation of our faith, a source and sign of our unity with the Church, the Body of Christ.
But the Eucharist isn’t just about ourselves, it’s also about reaching out to others in charity and generosity. Whenever we attend Holy Mass and receive the Eucharist, whenever we adore Christ present in the Blessed Sacrament, it should awaken our senses to be more aware of and more responsive to our brothers and sisters in need. And this is important, for as Pope Benedict said, a Eucharist that doesn’t result in the “concrete practice of love” is broken, is incomplete.
And so the Eucharist moves us beyond our self-imposed walls and sensitizes us to the abject poverty and suffering of our brothers and sisters around the world. The Eucharist helps us respond to the needs of folks in our own community – the poor, the hungry, the homeless, the addicted, the abused, the lonely and the incarcerated – that we tend to ignore. The Eucharist encourages us to be patient with our troublesome relatives and friends who carry anxieties and difficulties of their own. And the Eucharist gives us strength to forgive others who have offended us; to throw off the burden of bitterness that has weighed us down.
In all of these ways, the Eucharist calls us to a “practical love” that helps the image of Christ grow within us each day.
Something to think about: Does your attendance at Mass and reception of Holy Communion really help you to be a better, more charitable Catholic?
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