Saturday, August 06, 2005

"The Eucharist is pre-eminently a mysterium fidei."

Clairity's Place reflects on the Road to Emmaus. She makes note of Pope John Paul the Great's reflection of this gospel:
The account of the Risen Jesus appearing to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus helps us to focus on a primary aspect of the Eucharistic mystery, one which should always be present in the devotion of the People of God: The Eucharist is a mystery of light! What does this mean, and what are its implications for Christian life and spirituality?

Jesus described himself as the "light of the world" (Jn 8:12), and this quality clearly appears at those moments in his life, like the Transfiguration and the Resurrection, in which his divine glory shines forth brightly. Yet in the Eucharist the glory of Christ remains veiled. The Eucharist is pre-eminently a mysterium fidei. Through the mystery of his complete hiddenness, Christ becomes a mystery of light, thanks to which believers are led into the depths of the divine life. By a happy intuition, Rublëv's celebrated icon of the Trinity clearly places the Eucharist at the center of the life of the Trinity.
Receiving the Eucharist means entering into a profound communion with Jesus. "Abide in me, and I in you" (Jn 15:4). This relationship of profound and mutual "abiding" enables us to have a certain foretaste of heaven on earth. Is this not the greatest of human yearnings? Is this not what God had in mind when he brought about in history his plan of salvation? God has placed in human hearts a "hunger" for his word (cf. Am 8:11), a hunger which will be satisfied only by full union with him. Eucharistic communion was given so that we might be "sated" with God here on earth, in expectation of our complete fulfillment in heaven.
Ms. Mollerus notes that the disciples asked Jesus, without recognizing him, to stay with them. He responds by breaking bread in an offering of Eucharist--his own body and blood. By doing so, she concludes, Jesus has given the disciples the very thing they ask for and the very thing they will spend their lives trying to seek. I would agree.

We are in the world, but not of it. We are Spirit and matter, body and soul. We are sinners forgiven in the blood of Jesus Christ. We are a people meant for eternity but living in history. Thus, we seek God through the handicaps of our own imperfections. Through Christ, God himself also seeks us out. Through the sacrament of the Eucharist, Christ stays with us. His Real Presence nourishes us with that foretaste of the joy and fulfillment we will experience eternally with him in heaven. Meanwhile, we live here on earth, where some days it's much harder to see God than others. Some days it will be hard to see him at all. Like the day a man finds out that his wife has suffered a debilitating stroke that has left her brain-dead, while she's pregnant with their child. Like the day a pillar of the community betrays everyone who has ever known him and explodes a bomb in a backpack he wears, killing dozens and wounding many more in a London Tube station. Like the day when a young man realizes that his mother may die before his son remembers her, because her frail body can't withstand the chemo-therapy that supposed to end her breast cancer. Those are the days when God's presence, while still with us, becomes that much harder to discern. Our challenge is to seek him out all the more.

God did not will these disasters upon us. He permits them only because through the mystery of his Love, he is able to draw some good out of even the most insidious evil. This is the secret of his mercy. Many of us understand how grateful we should be to him for it. How many times have many of us wondered why God still bothers with us? How many times have we said "no" to some temptation, only to find ourselves surrendering to it sooner or later? How many times have we shattered the promises we meant to keep? How many times did we stay seated when we knew we should stand? How many times did we hold on when we knew we should let go? Our sins are legion; we should be honest enough with ourselves to admit that. Still, God hasn't given up on us. Why, then, should we give up on him? We know he's not the cause of the evil that envelops us, don't we?

Thus, the Eucharist offers us all a chance to unite ourselves with Christ anew. We demonstrate our unity with him when we receive him in good conscience, free of any mortal sin. We experience his healing presence and share that moment of heaven that may one day be our moment for eternity! So strengthened, we then head back into that world, where we seek Christ out in the pleading arms of societies' most marginalized. We seek his presence even when evil appears to obsure him from us. We bring his presence in us to those that need to be with him through the compassion we show. Thus, Christ stays with us, as he promised us he always would. As he did for the disciples on the road to Emmaus that asked him. As he does for us today and every day until we see him face-to-face at last.