“In the Eucharist, God has given us everything. Although God is all-powerful, He is unable to give more; though supremely wise, He knows not how to give more; though vastly rich, He has not more to give.” Saint Augustine
With the feast of Corpus Christi last weekend, the Church in the United States began a three-year “Eucharistic Revival.” The purpose of this time is to deepen our understanding, our love, and our commitment to Jesus. Christ is truly and personally present in this supreme Gift, abiding with us always. The Eucharist is a mystery to be believed, celebrated, and lived.
Over the coming weeks in these messages I alternate with Fr. Ron, I plan to share some of rich doctrine of this mystery of our Catholic faith and life. It will not be exhaustive and will be a bit more catechetical than devotional – that is, more objective teaching and less personal experience. But three years gives us time for an array of reflections and approaches.
To begin, imagine that you had to say good-bye to those you love very deeply, and they did not know whether they would ever see you again. What would be the best possible farewell gift you could give them?
Perhaps all of us will face this situation in our lives at some time. The emotions are strong. The memories of the time we have shared come flooding in. We wish for just one more day, one more hour, with those we love. In our sorrow at parting, love promises to provide a bond across the miles and across the years. So we rely on pictures, treasured gifts, letters; and in our modern era, e-mail and websites. Perhaps occasionally we are even able to pay a visit.
While this is a great gift, we also know the same anguish of parting all over again. What would be the best farewell gift, the ideal expression of our abiding promise of love, support, and fidelity? It would be somehow not to go … to somehow remain personally present even across the miles, across the years. As He prepared to leave this world to go to His Father through the sacrifice of His life for us on the Cross, Jesus left us that greatest of all possible farewell gifts. He remains with those He loves until we are reunited with Him in the perfect life of glory. This farewell gift is the Eucharist.
Indeed, Jesus says: “Anyone who loves Me will be true to My word; and My Father will love him; we will come to him and make our dwelling place with him” (John 14:23); and “Know that I am with you always, until the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20).
Through this life-giving mystery, we receive with adoration and joy the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The same Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh through Mary, is with us. Now risen from the dead and glorified, He is truly and substantially present under the forms of bread and wine. Through the Eucharist, Jesus remains faithful to His promise to be with His Church always, until the end of time.
Jesus invites: “Come to Me, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). He gives us a share in His own divine life through this Bread of Life and Cup of eternal salvation. In sharing in the Eucharist, we already share in the worship that is constantly being offered to God in heaven: “We join the angels and the saints in the unending hymn” of God’s praise. Through this mystery, we already begin to share in the eternal life to which we are called.
On another note: I want to thank all of you for your kind thoughts, words, prayers, and gestures of support as I thank God for 35 years of priestly ministry. God has blessed me in countless ways through the inspiring witness of so many good people who share their own faith, hope, and trust in the Lord. I assure you of my prayers each day. I will use the gifts you’ve given for charity, that others may also benefit from your kindness.