Three Passages about the Eucharist (short homily)
As always Jesus is telling us today not be holier than thou, not to get all caught up in words, not to think we own the truth. As always the distinction is between arrogance and humility, appearance and reality. As always the call is to act, with justice and forgiveness.
The Our Father in its simplicity and directness contains all the truth and all the doctrine we ever need, and it’s about the moment, and it’s about surrender, and it’s about forgiveness.
A friend gave me a list of really powerful passages about the Eucharist and the meaning of the Eucharist and I think two of them relate to this today. The Our Father is at the center of the Eucharist for us. We pray it immediately before we receive. In a sense when we receive the Body of Christ we also eating the Our Father. We are swallowing it.
The first quote is from Father Edward Hays, and it’s a good one. It’s exactly parallel to what Jesus is saying in the Gospel:
The invitation of Jesus is to “take and eat,” not bow before and adore. A true adoration of Christ present in the Eucharist leads to seeing Christ present in the Living Eucharist of humanity and creation. If adoration before Christ in the Host is an eye-opener to Christ in the poor and homeless, in prostitutes and convicts, then it is a devotion of value. If not, it, like many devotions, borders on idolatry. Those who promote this devotion would be well served to begin their hour of adoration with this prayer by Henri de Lubac: “If I lack love and justice, I separate myself completely from you, God, and my adoration is nothing more than idolatry. To believe in you, I must believe in love and justice, and such belief is wroth a thousand times more than saying your name.”
The second quote is very much the same, but it’s from one of the early Church fathers, St. John Chryostom:
Do you wish to honor the Body of Christ? Do not ignore him when he is naked. Do not pay him homage in the temple clad in silk, only then to neglect him outside where he is cold and ill-clad. He who said. “This is my Body” is the same who said: “You saw me hungry and you gave me no food,” and “Whatever you did to the least of my brothers you did also for me.” What good is it if the Eucharistic table is overloaded with gold chalices when your brother is dying of hunger? Start satisfying his hunger and then with what is left you may adorn the altar as well.
It’s the same. It’s the pattern. It’s the central insight of scripture and tradition, over and over again.
A final passage, from maybe the greatest of the Fathers, St. Augustine:
The bread is Christ’s body, the cup is Christ’s blood. If you, therefore, are Christ’s body and members, it is your own mystery that is placed on the Lord’s table! It is your own mystery that you are receiving! Be a member of Christ’s body, then, so that your Amen may ring true! Be what you see; receive what you are. All who fail to keep the bond of peace after entering this mystery receive not a sacrament that benefits them, but an indictment that condemns them.
These are wonderful passages, I think, all three of them, and I’ll leave them on my blog if anybody wants to have them for prayer and for reflection. I feel really inspired by them and reassured by them. I feel really called by them, and I hope you do, too.
Oh Lord, we praise you for the Eucharist, we praise you for your body, and we praise you for the great and simple prayer you left us. May we pray it with complete humility and complete faith. May we receive in you who we really are. May we celebrate in the Eucharist the mystery of our own lives. May we celebrate our own lives. May we celebrate the lives of our others and serve others. May we serve. May we act. May we live.