Today we celebrate the foundational Catholic truth that Christ is present, really present, in the Eucharist. In the past, and even today, much theological time and effort is spent on trying to understand how Christ is present in the bread and wine. I think it is more important to ask the question why Christ is present. This wondrous gift of the Eucharist allows Christ to be present for our benefit – present to help us live. How does the Eucharist help us live? We proclaim it in the mystery of faith….”Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.
Christ has died. We remember in this meal the tremendous love by which Christ gave his life for our salvation. Dying is about letting go. As we encounter in the Eucharist the Christ who died for us, he imparts to us the power of letting go of those aspects of our life that hold us back. What are the things that hold us back? Each of us must answer that question from the circumstances of our lives. Perhaps we must let go of resentment or hurt or self-indulgence or addiction or prejudice or pride. Each time we come to this meal we set those obstacles before the Lord, and the Christ who gave his life for us enables us to let go of whatever hinders us.
Christ is risen. Here is the center of our faith. We believe that the love and goodness of God was so real in the person of Christ that God conquered event death. As we encounter the risen Christ in the Eucharist he gives us the power to see the goodness that is a part of our life and our world. How easy it is for us to center on what is wrong, what is broken, what has failed. In doing so we discount all the goodness and blessing that surround us in our lives. What could be a greater waste than to be a blessed and loved person and never claim and celebrate that gift? So each time we come to this meal and encounter the risen Christ we receive the strength to be thankful for the people who love us, for our health, for our talents, for the beauty of the world around us. We pray for the risen Christ to make us always conscience of those gifts and never take any of them for granted!
Christ will come again. Although Christ is risen, the victory of Christ is not yet complete. Evil, injustice, violence, and hatred remain as a part of our world. They touch our lives. But we as a community believe Christ will come again, and when he comes the ultimate victory will be won and all evil will be destroyed. So each time we encounter the Christ who will come again in the Eucharist he gives us the strength to hold on, to hold on in hope. This strength allows us to believe that whatever troubles we must face God has not forgotten us and will not abandon us. In this Eucharist meal we pray that Christ will allow us to hold onto hope, even in the midst of family troubles, in the midst of sickness, in the midst of discouragement and failure, and yes even in the shadow of death.
The good news of the Eucharist is not only that Christ is present, really present, but that Christ is present for our benefit, present so that we might live!
Have a Blessed Week!