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Reflection on the Eucharist By Fr. Joe Lee

We, as the Body of Christ continue to ponder upon the most remarkable gift that Jesus gives to us over and over again -- the gift of the Eucharist, I’d like to share a reflection on St. Pope John Paul II’s Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistica.

“When I think of the Eucharist, and look at my life as a priest, as a Bishop and as a Successor of Peter, I naturally recall the many times and places in which I was able to celebrate it…I have been able to celebrate Holy Mass in chapels built along mountain paths, on lakeshores and seacoasts; I have celebrated it on altars built in stadiums and in city squares…This varied scenario of celebrations of the Eucharist has given me a powerful experience of its universal and, so to speak, cosmic character. Yes, cosmic! Because even when it is celebrated on the humble altar of a country church, the Eucharist is always in some way celebrated on the altar of the world. It unites heaven and earth. It embraces and permeates all creation.” (Par. 8)

It’s quite clear that the St. Pope deeply feels the intimate connection of the Eucharist with all of creation, with all that we are as humans. For him, the Eucharist is not something that is only done in a small, confined space at a certain hour. Rather, the Eucharist touches everything and everyone in a cosmic and mysterious way.

When we come here at St. Francis parish, to celebrate the Eucharist, do we feel as if are stepping out of the real world and entering into some realm of fantasy? Is there an atmosphere of unreality about our celebration of the Mass? When we are here, do we feel disconnected from our daily life? If any of this is true, we need to re-focus on the real meaning of the Eucharist.

“For this to happen, each member of the faithful must assimilate, through personal and communal meditation, the values which the Eucharist expresses, the attitudes it inspires, the resolution to which it gives rise.” (Par. 25) In other words, we have to continually make the connection between our celebration of the Eucharist and the lives which all of us live day by day. Allow me to mention at least three elements which we need to have in our daily lives so that they will reflect what is happening every time we come to celebrate the Holy Eucharist.

A) Thanksgiving and Praise:

The very word “Eucharist” means “thanksgiving.” At every celebration we offer thanks to the Creator for everything that is. In our day-to-day life, we are asked to do the same. How many times do we find ourselves in a complaining mood? So many of us seem to find fault with so much. This can become such an ingrained habit that after a while we don’t even notice it. Our first reaction to something is not to see what is right with it, but to see what is wrong. We become hypercritical. Living in this way is not living as a Eucharistic person.

On the other hand, if we cultivate the attitude of gratitude, we will more easily recognize the many gifts which God continually sends our way. This attitude also brings us closer to others because we come to see the good in people, rather than the petty faults which we allow to bother us.

B) Sacrifice:

“The Eucharist is indelibly marked by the event of the Lord’s passion and death, of which it is not only a reminder but the sacramental re-presentation.” (Par. 11) Many times in our lives, we are called, upon to sacrifice. It could be our time, our money, our own personal comfort, even our dreams at times—whatever it is, sacrifices are not easy. They call on our deepest spiritual resources.

Every time we answer the call to give of ourselves, we are joining ourselves to Christ who gave himself on the Cross. Taking care of a sick spouse or friend, an elderly parent, or a helpless child, giving our money so that others can be fed and housed – all this and so much more is a sign that we live the Eucharist in our daily lives.

And lastly, Solidarity – Sharing:

At the Eucharist we gather around the Lord’s table as one universal family, and we allow the Lord Jesus to unite us in the deepest possible way by sharing in the Eucharistic Bread – the very Body and Blood of Christ. Every time we make a genuine effort to make our human family more of a family, we are truly celebrating the Eucharist. Every time we offer forgiveness, bring healing, build up our family, come closer to friends and strangers, we are celebrating the Eucharist. May we seek a deep sense of being to be people of Eucharist.

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