The Gift of Our Lord Jesus Christ

For good reason the Eucharist is called the “source and summit” of our Catholic faith (Lumen Gentium, 11; CCC 1324). In his last encyclical, dated Holy Thursday 2003, Saint Pope John Paul II wrote: “When the Church celebrates the Eucharist, the memorial of her Lord’s death and resurrection, this central event of salvation becomes really present and ‘the work of our redemption is carried out’” (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 11; quoting Lumen Gentium 3).  

Ten years ago this month, I was honored to speak at a Eucharistic Congress in Quebec.  Attending also was Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires.  The future Pope Francis explained in his address how essential the Blessed Sacrament is. In the Eucharist, he said, “Jesus Christ has entrusted the Church with the permanent actualization of the Easter mystery. With this gift, he instituted a mysterious oneness in time between the Easter Triduum and the Church’s life through the centuries. Each time we celebrate the sacred mystery, the wellsprings of the Church are anticipated and summed up in the Eucharist” (Address of June 18, 2008).

Earlier this year, in his exhortation on how we can become more holy, Pope Francis affirmed that by our participation in this holy sacrifice and gift, “the one true God receives the greatest worship the world can give him, for it is Christ himself who is offered. When we receive him in Holy Communion, we renew our covenant with him and allow him to carry out ever more fully his work of transforming our lives” (Gaudete et Exsultate, 157).

Christians firmly rooted in the Eucharist cannot help but be transformed and inspired to be positive messengers of the faith.  And if we are to be transformed in Jesus’ death and Resurrection into new life, then we must learn to see in each other brothers and sisters, friends and members of the same spiritual family.

Our faith calls us in fact to be willing to recognize Christ not only in the Eucharist, but in one another and to do so in a way that manifests his love now and until he comes in glory. Whether it is to those referred to as “nones” in surveys of religious affiliation, “the spiritual but not religious,” those who are completely unaware of the Catholic faith, those who have had negative experiences in the Church, or many more, such missionaries to them are greatly needed today.

Some of these people who are so spiritually malnourished may live right next door.  On this glorious Solemnity of Corpus Christi and every day, it is incumbent upon us to take that sacred faith in the Bread of Life and simply share it.

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