Eucharistic Revival (3)
Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ,
It’s time to return to the bulletin series on the Eucharist. The last time I wrote about the Eucharist, I discussed the importance of this sacrament as a memorial of Christ’s sacrifice. Every time we gather around the altar, we remember the one supreme sacrifice of Christ’s love with which he shed his blood for us. We are truly with Christ at his crucifixion.
This weekend I want to emphasize the Eucharist as a place of communion; that is, a place of love and friendship with Christ and one another. A key point for us to recognize is this: Just as Christ came to us in the Incarnation (lived among us), he comes to us today in the Eucharist. Jesus was sent by the Father so that we might come back into a right relationship with the Father, a relationship of love and communion. Jesus comes to us today through the Eucharist, continuing to nourish us with love and communion. The bishops remind us that “Through this sacrament, the pilgrim Church is nourished, deepening her communion with the Triune God and consequently that of her members with one another” (24). And to add further clarity they write, “The Sacrament of the Eucharist is called Holy Communion precisely because, by placing us in intimate communion with the sacrifice of Christ, we are placed in intimate communion with him and, through him, with each other” (25).
Recently, my brother-in-law, Matt, had a birthday. My family sat around the table as we celebrated: 1) Matt’s birthday, 2) the birth of Matt’s and my sister Erin’s second child, and 3) a goodbye party for my dad who is going on a year-long journey traveling the country. Sitting around the dinner table, we enjoyed one another. In a quite beautiful way, we shared qualities that we appreciated in Matt, to affirm and honor him on his birthday. And we talked with our dad about his trip, what he was excited about, and the blog he is going to write. I share all of this with you, because we did this around a table. Tables are a place of love, friendship, and communion. It’s not just a place where we share food with one another, but a place where we share our lives, grow in friendship and intimacy with one another. This is why we also call the altar a table. It’s not just a place of sacrifice. The altar is a place of love, friendship, and intimacy with Jesus Christ and one another. With that in mind, consider these emphatic words from our Bishops on the importance of weekly worship centered around the Eucharistic Table:
The obligation to attend Mass each Sunday, the Lord’s Day, on which we commemorate the Resurrection of Jesus, and on other holy days of obligation, is therefore a vital expression of our unity as members of the Body of Christ, the Church. It is also a manifestation of the truth that we are utterly dependent upon God and his grace… St. John Paul II, writing of Sunday as “a day which is at the very heart of the Christian life,” further asserts, “Time given to Christ is never time lost, but is rather time gained, so that our relationships and indeed our whole life may become more profoundly human.” We have been reborn in Baptism and nourished by the Eucharist so that we may live in communion with God and one another, not only today but also in the fullness of the heavenly Kingdom. To worship God on Sundays, then, is not the mere observance of a rule but the fulfillment of our identity, of who we are as members of the Body of Christ. Participation in the Mass is an act of love.The Mystery of the Eucharist (28)
Brothers and sisters, since the Eucharist is the place of love and friendship with God and one another, this is why it so important for us to be together every Sunday. Our Church, our time gathered around Christ’s table, is meant to be an experience of home, the place where we are with our family, friends, and our Lord being sustained and nourished by Triune Love of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.