Friday, February 3, 2012

The Eucharist and the Fire of God's Love

Jesus remains with us in His own reality, the wonderful gift of Himself that is the Eucharist. In the Eucharist, the mysterious act of His offering Himself to the Father for our salvation is continually "made present," and made available to our here-and-now lives so that we can join our hearts to the offering of His Heart. And from this Heart, the fount of Mercy flows, bringing us healing and empowering us to be the instruments of His Mercy in the world.

This is what the Eucharistic Liturgy means. Jesus has offered Himself once for all to the Father. But that one offering penetrates space and time and reaches us, because it is made on behalf of every human person. In the Mass the Church is enabled to offer to the Father nothing less than His Only Son, through those who are ordained to a share in the ministerial priesthood of Christ, and who offer this one sacrifice "in His Person," extending its presence throughout the world. The faithful Christian also offers Christ by virtue of his or her baptismal consecration; he or she offers the Eucharistic Christ through the ordained priest, and together with him. The Christian who offers and then receives the mystery of Christ is called to bring Him to the whole world.

The call of God's love and mercy extends beyond ourselves; He burns with love for every person, and in the Eucharist He longs to enkindle that flame in our hearts. For this reason the Christian is called to live and to manifest something new in the world. This is the world that is so poor, so confused, so struggling and seeking, so full of human persons who have been created in the image of God and redeemed by Christ, and who travel along broken paths searching for the One who loves them and calls them, but who they do not yet know. It is also the world of those who have rejected God and those who ignore God, but who He continues to seek and to draw back to Himself. God's Mercy works in their hearts, mysteriously, but it also works through us and wants to manifest itself and give itself through us. God wants the beauty and the glory of His Mercy to shine through us, so that those who are burdened by the riddle of life's meaning may see that God Himself has brought something new into history as an answer to the human question.

Here we are, poor earthen vessels of His love. We ourselves are so much in need of healing and of experiencing His love and mercy. Our mission is not one of winning over the world to our party, as if the transformation of creation somehow came from our own selves and was the construction of our own brilliance and coherence. No, our mission is to let Christ win us, and win the world with us and through us. The conversion of the hearts of others is linked to our continuing conversion, our growing in love for Him and our solidarity with all our brothers and sisters--our willingness to suffer and share all the burdens of being human.