Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Eucharist - the Source and Summit of Christian Life

You and I are all called to be Holy. We become holy not by what we do but by what God does within us.

Jesus lifting the bread in his hands said “Take this and eat, this is my body broken for you. And then he took the chalice and said, drink this, this is my blood, The blood of the new covenant, poured out for the forgiveness of your sins.

It is Jesus who makes us holy like Him by giving us his own complete self - body, blood, soul and divinity. In the holy mass, during the Communion service, what takes place is a profound and mysterious exchange. Jesus takes upon himself our broken and wounded bodies and gives us his holy body. 

Our old sinful self is crucified with Jesus and we become a new creation. The old is gone and the new comes in. Because of this priceless exchange, we can now say with confidence, Its no longer I but Jesus who lives in me. 

God the father, out of his immense love and mercy, sent his only begotten son to become the worthy sacrifice and liberate humanity from the clutches of sin. Writhing in pain, Jesus cried out from the cross “it is finished” as he faithfully accomplished the mission entrusted to him by the father. What He began in the upper room the previous day, he finishes on the cross. He sacrifices himself for us. By His sacrifice, Jesus healed our wounds and reconciled us back to God. We can now call God “Our father”.

John the Baptist, the one who came to prepare the way for the savior, pointing to Jesus told his disciples, Behold, the Lamb of God who takes way the sin of the world. Jesus not only takes away the sins but also gives himself to us as a meal. Jesus said “Truly, truly I tell you, unless you eat my body and drink my blood you would have no life. 

Eucharist is both a sacrifice and a meal. Happy are we who are called to his supper every day. This meal makes us “fully alive”, This meal nourishes and satisfies our soul. This meal is the life of every Christian. This meal is Eucharist, the source and summit of Christian life. 

Jesus wants our Christian life to be “Eucharistic”. In one of the principal documents of the Second Vatican council named “Lumen Gentium” the church declared that the Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life. This implies that the life of a Christian emerges and culminates in the Eucharist. We are thus the fruit of the very “Tree of Life” that the Genesis talks about. Our destiny is to become like the Eucharistic Christ, emulating the self-donating love of our Lord. We are called to become the very grain of wheat that falls to the ground and dies so that like Jesus, we too may produce much fruit.

At the last supper, Jesus instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist as a new covenant, offering himself as food and drink to us. He said do this in memory of me. When we eat the body and drink the blood, we unite ourselves to the life of Jesus i.e. his body, blood, soul and divinity. In other words, we partake in the “divine life” of God, i.e. the very life of the Trinity itself. We become what we eat.

Jesus the head of the Church unites with his bride the Church in the sacrament of the Eucharist. We become one flesh with Jesus. This communion is real. The Eucharistic union is the foretaste of our ultimate union with Jesus, at the wedding supper of the Lamb. 

I would like to conclude with the passionate words of the Catholic mystic and saint Gemma Galgani. “Do grant, oh my God, that when my lips approach Yours to kiss You, I may taste the bitter wine that was given to You; when my shoulders lean against Yours, make me feel Your scourging; when my flesh is united with Yours, in the Holy Eucharist, make me feel Your passion; when my head comes near Yours, make me feel Your thorns; when my heart is close to Yours, make me feel Your spear.”