“There is nothing littler or more silent than Christ present in the host. This little piece of bread embodies the humanity and perfect silence of God, his tenderness and his love for us. If we want to grow and to be filled with the love of God, it is necessary to plant our life firmly on three great realities: the cross, the host and the virgin. These are the three mysteries that God gave to the world in order to structure, fructify and sanctify our interior life and lead us to Jesus,” Robert Cardinal Sarah. The second Vatican council document, Lumen Gentium proclaimed the Eucharist as the source and summit of Christian life and mission. It is the highest form of prayer that the Church offers, whose essence derives from its meaning, that is, thanksgiving that also points towards the sacrifice of Christ the high priest.
In the celebration of the Eucharist, the community of believers gather to celebrate the presence of Christ in their midst in the form of his body and blood. This Biblical action makes reference and strict connection with the manna that the Lord offered the Israelites in the desert. Like in the celebration of the Passover, the Eucharist is the action that brings together the community of believers in thanksgiving to the Lord. Unlike the manna which our fore fathers ate and died, (John 6:49), the Eucharist, corpus et sanguis christi, is life giving food and drink, cibus vitae. “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him” (John 6:56-58). The Eucharist is a sacrament of communion that unites the human with the divine, that makes the human have a taste of eternal communion with God.
In the gospel of John 15, the reference, “I am the bread of life…” expresses not only an identity and role of the bread of life. It also proposes a relationship to seek the life-giving bread. Life flows from God through Christ to us in the bread of life. It is a sacrament, a grace that leads to unity between God and his people.
As believers and pilgrims on a journey, the Eucharist is given to us as the source of strength for our journey to God. Blessed Carlo Acutis audaciously affirms that the Euchatist is our highway to heaven. The road of the Eucharist leads us to God.
The Eucharist presents to the believers also a model of the Eucharistic spirituality, which is of self-offering for the good of the other. Christ elaborates the paths and steps of a Eucharistic spirituality. Take, Bless, give. By taking bread, his own body and blessing it, giving it out to his disciples, Christ offers the greatest sacrifice of himself for the life of the world. This becomes a way of how we should live our lives as his followers, learning to take what we have, making it a blessing for others, and giving it for others. The Eucharist then challenges us to live not for ourselves but for others such that it is no longer us who live but Christ who lives in us.
In his apostolic exhortation, “Sacramentum caritatis”, saint John Paul the second states that “the most Holy Eucharist contains the Church’s entire spiritual wealth, Christ himself, our Passover and the living bread. Through his own flesh now made living and life giving by the Holy Spirit, he offers life to men. This immense treasure of the Church is rendered alive by the action of the Holy Spirit, thus, it becomes communion with the fullness and totality of the triune God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Receiving then the body and blood of Christ is an embrace of the divine by the human. Humanity is joined to the divinity in this sacrament and it is truly a savoring of eternity.
FR. NICHOLAS ONYAIT MCCJ