Last week we reflected on the difficulties we face, not unlike John the Baptist and the saints who came after him, who have also experienced the deepest of spiritual darkness’s and doubt. But that like them, we too must trust in God’s love and care for us, and continue to reach out when our joy and certainty of faith is being attacked. God knows there will be struggles in our lives, of our own making and those inflicted upon us by others, but God will remain faithful to us and provide the grace and power necessary to rise and overcome. God wants our joy to be abiding and our peace to surpass all understanding.
The scripture readings help us, this week, to reflect on how Jesus brings God and humanity together in himself. As the only begotten Son of God, he is fully divine, he is Emmanuel (God with us); and being born of the virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit, he is fully human, he is Jesus (God saves). God becoming man, in order to save the fallen human race, is the greatest story ever told. This is the real meaning of Christmas.
This is symbolized every time we gather for the Eucharistic Celebration. During the offering of the bread and wine, the priest pours a few drops of water into the chalice full of wine. Those few drops of water get absorbed into the wine, and then together, with the words of consecration, they are transubstantiated into the blood of Christ. The water is taken up into the wine, just as, through Christ's grace and incarnation, our human nature is taken up into God.
So, we cannot reflect on the Incarnation of God and His nativity, without also considering the purpose for which He comes. He comes to save us, and that will require his death at our hands to pay the price of our sins if we are to experience now and forever the union with God for which we were made. We can’t reflect on our personal advent journey, the Incarnation and Christs passion, death and resurrection without speaking of the Eucharist; the way in which Christ comes to us at every Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
God gave the freed Israelites manna in the desert, and Christ tells us that He is the living bread of life that came down from heaven at the incarnation, so that we may eat and not die. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that He gives is His flesh, for the life of the world; because His flesh is real food and His blood is real drink. If we eat His flesh and drink His blood we will have eternal life, and He shall raise us up on the last day. (John 6:48-58).
Christ insisted, “The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. His were understood as being literally true, by St. Paul when he told the first Christians that those who approached the Eucharist unworthily would be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. There could be no question of a grievous offense against Christ Himself, unless Paul assumed that the true Body and the true Blood of Christ are really present in the Eucharist.
The Holy Eucharist is the paschal banquet in as much as Christ sacramentally makes present his Passover and gives us his Body and Blood, offered as food and drink, uniting us to himself and to one another in his sacrifice.
At the last supper, before He was betrayed by Judas, Christ instituted the Eucharist and celebrated the Passover as He made himself the sacrificial lamb. He brought to life the memory of their freedom from slavery, as He was preparing to make himself a prisoner by which his passion and death would become the means by which salvation would be accomplished for all.
The Eucharist it makes present and actual the sacrifice which Christ offered to the Father on the cross, once and for all on behalf of mankind. The sacrificial character of the Holy Eucharist is manifested in the very words of institution. The sacrifice of the cross and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one and the same sacrifice. The priest and the victim are the same; only the manner of offering is different: in a bloody manner on the cross, in an unbloody manner in the Eucharist.
The Eucharist is the very sacrifice of the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until his return in glory and He remains Emmanuel-God with us, in the Blessed Sacrament. In the Eucharist Christ is sacramentally present in many places and yet no less present at the right hand of the Father in His ascended glory. Through the Church and the sacraments, Christ has wanted to stay with his newly adopted family all throughout history. Thus he entrusted to his Church this memorial of his death and Resurrection. It is a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a paschal banquet, in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given us.
Holy Communion increases our union with Christ and with his Church. It preserves and renews the life of grace received at Baptism and Confirmation and makes us grow in love for our neighbor. It strengthens us in charity, wipes away venial sins and preserves us from mortal sin in the future. The Eucharist is the pledge of future glory because it fills us with every grace and heavenly blessing. It fortifies us for our pilgrimage in this life and makes us long for eternal life. It unites us to Christ already seated at the right hand of the Father, to the Church in heaven, and to the Blessed Virgin and to all the saints.
The Eucharist is the source and summit of all Christian life. In the Eucharist the sanctifying action of God in our regard and our worship of him reach their high point. It contains the whole spiritual good of the Church, Christ himself. Communion with divine life and the unity of the People of God are both expressed and effected by the Eucharist. Through the Eucharistic Celebration we are united already with the liturgy of heaven and we have a foretaste of eternal life.
*See Catechism of the Catholic Church; On the Eucharist
Peace doesn't just happen; it's made.
CampusPadre is a college ministry Priest Chaplain with 30 years experience in youth and young adult ministry, who strives to let the Holy Spirit lead and challenges students to seek holiness above all.