Love: The Eucharist
by Rev. Mark Connolly
I have a non-Catholic friend who has a great love for the Catholic Church. He is overawed by the fact that over two thousand years ago twelve men with almost no education could help create an organization that has over 700 million members throughout the world, has been a source of peace, a source of guidance for millions and a source of strength for millions. Oh, he is aware of the shortcomings, the limitations, the foibles, the mistakes and sins of the Church, but to him it has been a beacon of light, a source of strength to the down trodden, a sign of hope, a preacher of love.
He has told me over and over again that the Eucharist is the central message of Christ and that the apostles carried the message of Christ in the Eucharist.
In this day and age when we try to simplify complicated thoughts, I think my non-Catholic friend has come to the very heart and core of the message of Christ. The message of love through the Eucharist.
When you think of the Eucharist, think of the fact that billions of people for over 2,000 years have received the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist. They have, through the Eucharist, been consoled, strengthened, nurtured, helped through difficult times in their lives and because of the Eucharist brought the spirit of God's love to others who also were nurtured and helped by them.
I know the word love has been abused over the centuries. It has been identified with sex, romance, biology. But when you analyze the word love as it was given on that Holy Thursday to the twelve apostles and when you think that shortly afterwards they left the upper room and went to the ends of the earth preaching and teaching about the Eucharistic love they received that one night, you realize how it transformed lives and the lives of those whom they came in contact with. Thus, you can easily see the transforming power that the Eucharist gives.
For Catholics and non-Catholics alike, the Eucharist is a story that only a God could create. Now when God wrote the story of the Eucharist, he used a simple language, simple words.
As part of the story of the Eucharist of Christ, when he was on this earth he told his apostles, the same ones who went to the ends of the earth preaching his gospel of love, the same Christ told them he would not leave them orphans. He would be with them until the ends of the earth and that through the Eucharist he was going to see that they would have life and have it abundantly.
Now the story of the Eucharist is quite mysterious. Christ told his apostles he was going to die. The apostles knew he was going to die. Since these were facts that were to take place how could he talk to them and say, "I will be with you until the end of time?" How could he, if he knew he was going to die, how could he say he was going to give them life and an abundance of it. The answer as to how Christ could tell the apostles that he was going to leave to prepare a place in heaven for them and still be with his apostles and followers is summed up in one word: Eucharist.
The Eucharist is a real reminder of the power of the spoken word. On the night when Jesus Christ spoke to his apostles, he simply said as he held a piece of bread and a cup of wine, "this is my body, this is my blood." And from that moment on lifeless bread was changed into the bread of life.
That expression that Jesus Christ transformed lifeless bread into the bread of life just was done through the words he spoke. Now let's face it. You are saying, Jesus Christ with the words he spoke changed lifeless bread into the bread of life. Just through the words he spoke.
Before you start to get too dismayed, just think of how the power of your own spoken words changed your life.
For example, on the day of your wedding you spoke some words in the form of a vow to your husband or wife. Once you spoke those words, without change in your appearance, you were transformed from the single state to the marriage state.
Now men and women have been known to utter a vow to protect their country. They have been transformed from the single state to the military state.
Young seminarians have been know to take a vow that transformed them from the single state to the religious state. Remember, no change in their appearance.
Now if we can bring about such amazing changes in our lives just through the words we speak, don't you think that an all powerful God, through the words he speaks, don't you think he can transform that lifeless bread into the bread of life.
The apostles believed that he did and that through ordination he gave them the same power. They believed in Christ and his power that they went to the ends of the earth preaching and teaching about a God of love who one night changed lifeless bread into the bread of life.
Catholicism has enriched the world because of the night Christ instituted the Eucharist. The apostles and millions of followers of Christ have taken the bread of life over the centuries. Because of this desire to spread the love of Christ and bring it to others, the poor have been helped, the hungry have been fed, the naked have been clothed.
Imagine if Christ had never changed lifeless bread into the bread of life. Imagine if you can the apostles never receiving the Eucharist, never going to the ends of the earth letting the world know about the Eucharist.
The word Eucharist does mean giving thanks. And millions of people today who receive the Eucharist thank the apostles, but in particular, thank Christ who said, "I will not leave you orphans."
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