Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ,
Over the past weeks, we’ve reflected on the mystery of the Eucharist. We discussed how the Eucharist is the sacrifice of God’s love poured out for us. This sacrificial element of the Eucharist is seen at the Last Supper, celebrating the Passover. Jesus makes explicit that his impending death is freely embraced out of love for us. Christ’s sacrifice of himself to the Father was efficacious and salvific because of the supreme love with which he shed his blood, and this sacrifice is celebrated through the Eucharist. This sacrament is also commonly referred to as communion, because the altar is a place of love, friendship, and intimacy with Jesus Christ and one another. So the Eucharist happens on an altar and table; the place of sacrificial love and intimate communion and friendship experienced through Jesus Christ.
Some of you have noticed that I often begin Mass in the same way, with the typical greeting “The Lord be with you…” and then I say, “and a special welcome to all of our guests that together we can give God thanks and praise.” I begin this way for two reasons, 1) to welcome our visitors, and 2) to remind us the reason we are all gathered here in the first place. More than anything else, we are gathered here around the Eucharistic table to give God thanks and praise.
The Bishops write in their letter, The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church, “having been sanctified by the gift of the Eucharist and filled with faith, hope, and charity, the faithful are called to respond to this gift. Indeed, it is only natural that we give thanks to the Lord for all that he has given to us” (19). We are called to thank God for all that he has done for humanity and for each one of us personally.
The word Eucharist, means thanksgiving. The bishops continue, “The
gratitude that inspires us to give thanks and worship God in the celebration of
the Eucharist should be nurtured and enriched by the beauty of the liturgical
action itself” (32).
Finally, the bishops of the United States mention the growing love and devotion of adoring the Blessed Sacrament outside of Sunday Mass. They encourage this practice. I do as well. It is why we offer it on Tuesdays (4pm-10pm) and Thursdays (9am-5pm). I’ll conclude yet again with words from the bishops:
We rejoice in the growing numbers of the faithful who pray inThe Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church
adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, a testament of faith
in the Real Presence of the Lord in the Eucharist. We encourage this devotion, which helps all of us to be formed by the
self-giving love we behold in the Lord’s gift of himself in the
Eucharist. St. (Mother) Teresa of Calcutta reportedly once
said: “When you look at the crucifix, you understand how
much Jesus loved you then. When you look at the Sacred
Host, you understand how much Jesus loves you now.
Our gratitude to Jesus Christ for the salvation he has won is expressed in our worship both at Mass and of the Blessed Sacrament in adoration. It is truly right and just to give him thanks and praise.