Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Eastering in Us

Towards the end of his poem, The Wreck of the Deutschland, Gerard Manley Hopkins speaks of his hope that Christ will enter our lives: “Let him easter in us, be a dayspring to the dimness of us.” He understands Easter as verb - a reminder that Easter is about action, living and transformation. It strikes me that everything Hopkins poetically alludes to concerning Easter can be said of the Eucharist. The Eucharist is not simply something we receive; it is something we do. It is not simply a noun; it is fundamentally a verb.

We believe many significant things about the Eucharist. We believe that the bread and wine become for us the real Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus. When we eat the bread and drink the cup, we receive the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ, a sublime mystery, a tremendous treasure of our faith. We cannot fully appreciate the body and blood of the Lord, the noun of the Eucharist, if we separate it from the verb of the Eucharist. For it is the Holy Spirit through the action of the Eucharist that allows the bread and wine to become the Body and Blood of Christ for us.
In the Eucharist we gather, we listen, we bless, we eat, and we are sent forth. These are verbs of Eucharist. Our gathering is important because the action of the Eucharist is not the action of one person but of many. It is the action of the Church. We listen. We hear the Word of God proclaimed, and we remember all that God has done for us and has promised to do for us. We bless. We bless God in the great Eucharistic Prayer. It is the priest who says the words, but it is the prayer of the assembly - all of us bless God and pray this prayer together in memory of Jesus. And so, the real presence of Jesus comes into our midst. We then eat the Body and drink the Blood of the Lord, receiving Christ as nourishment. And finally, we are sent forth; sent forth to be Christ and to bring Christ to the world.

There are two truths flowing from these actions of the Eucharist - the truth of our dignity and the truth of our duty. The action of blessing in the Eucharist reveals to us our dignity as God's children. The gift of Christ’s Body and Blood does not happen if we do not ask for it. In our Eucharistic Prayer we ask for the outpouring of the Spirit on the gifts of bread and wine. God’s unfailing willingness to honor our prayerful request reveals our dignity as God’s own children. 

Because we have shared in the Body and Blood of the Lord, we then have a responsibility to bring the life of Christ to others and to recognize the life of Christ in others. We not only serve Christ by serving one another, we serve Christ in one another. It is one act of service - to love God and to love our neighbor are not two loves but one. And if we fail to reverence Christ in one another, we cannot authentically reverence his sacramental presence on the altar.  (see Vincent Pizzuto, Contemplating Christ and blog by Fr. George Smiga.) 
Photograph by Brother Brian. Excerpts from Father Abbot's homily for Corpus Christ.