Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Eucharist and Marital love

The call to deny our self, take up the cross and follow Jesus must resound in our ears day and night, no matter what vocation we are chosen to lead. This is inevitably an invitation to the peak of Calvary to empty our self and give life to the other just as the Eucharist cures our soul and gives new life.

Christ sealed the marital covenant with his church, by his self gift of the Eucharist [His body and blood], on the altar of the cross, embracing us into a one flesh union with Him. We who are united in the marital covenant, sealed by His blood [sacramentally] too become one flesh with our spouse, where the alter is - the bed. The sealant that consummates the marital covenant is sexual love, just as Eucharist is in the former. This union indeed is modeled on the mystery of the Holy Trinity. We too are made partakers of this mystery as Christ unites us to His body.

The covenant Jesus sealed on the cross with us [the church] is renewed in every celebration of the Eucharist [Holy Mass] especially when we receive the body and blood of Jesus. In the case of married couple, it is sexual union that renews the marital covenant as often as the couple mutually desire. If we deny the Eucharist and consider it merely as a symbol, we refuse Jesus’ desire to unite us in a one flesh covenantal union with Him and also the abundant grace to love like Christ.

If our occasional communion services are merely to preserve the memory of what Jesus did on the last supper, we would well be like animals that ritually mate in certain season to preserve their progeny. Leading Christian lives without the Eucharist can also be likened to married couple who enjoy each other’s presence but are doctrinally denied their legitimate desire to unite in a one flesh union.

Just as by abortion and contraception one rejects children; the natural gift of sexual love for selfish reasons; by rejecting the Eucharist we reject Jesus' self gift that enables us to be born again, for selfish reasons and at the same time, the grace to do so.

Upon receiving the Eucharist, if one does not have a transformative experience, he should be certain of his infidelity to Christ. And also thus in married life, if one does not specially cherish the one flesh, intimate moments with the spouse, not just in terms of pleasure but as a transformative experience, he must certainly suspect his inclinations. It is our fidelity and intimacy to Christ, which encourages us to present ourselves spotless before Him on the Eucharistic table- the alter. Similarly in marriage - in bed.

Loving anything more than the Lord himself, we render ourselves unworthy of His fidelity and love. “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. [Mathew 10:37-38] The cross here is the one that others lay upon our shoulders for the mistakes we have not committed. Our righteous indignation in response to this undeserved pain, must melt like snow in the sun with the zeal to love like Christ. Eucharist gives us this grace on a daily basis. We must understand there is no Eucharist with out the Word of God. They are one and the same and yet one does not replace the other. It is this very Word of God [that Jesus himself is] which makes it possible for us to receive His body and blood  in the bread and wine and have life in abundance.

Just as sexual love of a person is reserved for the spouse to whom he/she is sacramentally united and not for friends and acquaintances; Eucharist too is thus reserved for those who are sacramentally married to Christ. Just as holy shame preserves and protects a person’s sexual gifts from those whom he/she is not covenantally married to, the church, preserves and protects the Eucharist from those receiving it unworthily.

In the gospel of John Jesus says. "In all truth I tell you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood has eternal life, and I shall raise that person up on the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in that person." [6:53-56]. The indissolubility of the marital covenant and the covenant that Christ entered with us in the upper room upholds the fact that Jesus was not speaking figuratively in the above passage.

Lord, help me to love my spouse like you love me.