In this morning’s familiar Gospel story, a lost son squanders his very large inheritance with riotous, wasteful living. He returns home in desperation and sorrow, and amazingly his father rushes towards him to mercy him. And his father's amazing response is: “Let us celebrate with a feast.” God longs to fill us with more than we deserve. As we come to him with humble, contrite hearts, God in Christ is running toward us to mercy us. And even when we resist, he will beg us as the father in the Gospel story, “All I have is yours.” This is what the Holy Eucharist accomplishes; for there on the altar God in Christ gives himself away to us.
In the Eucharist Jesus rushes toward us in an overwhelming surrender of love. With astounding overabundance God in Christ loses himself in love for us. Jesus becomes our food, so that he can be dissolved in us. “Love means letting another’s existence define me,” says Father Jeremy Driscoll. It is what Jesus knew and experienced on the cross, as he gave himself away for us, to us. And by surrendering himself to us in the Sacrament of the Altar, Jesus draws us into the very life of God, into the very self-forgetfulness that is God. Thus it is that the Eucharist accomplishes this amazing blurring of boundaries. As Saint Bernard writes, “He consumes me that he may have me in himself, and he in turn is consumed by me that he may be in me, and the bond between us will be strong and the union complete. For I shall be in him, and he will likewise be in me.” In the Holy Eucharist God squanders himself on us.
Photograph by Brother Brian.