Saturday, June 25, 2011

Reflection on Love and the Eucharist on the Occasion of the Feast of Corpus Christi

Jesus gave this act of oblation an enduring presence through his institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper. He anticipated his death and resurrection by giving his disciples, in the bread and wine, his very self, his body and blood as the new manna (cf. Jn 6:31-33). The ancient world had dimly perceived that man's real food—what truly nourishes him as man—is ultimately the Logos, eternal wisdom: this same Logos now truly becomes food for us—as love. The Eucharist draws us into Jesus' act of self-oblation. More than just statically receiving the incarnate Logos, we enter into the very dynamic of his self-giving. The imagery of marriage between God and Israel is now realized in a way previously inconceivable: it had meant standing in God's presence, but now it becomes union with God through sharing in Jesus' self-gift, sharing in his body and blood. The sacramental “mysticism”, grounded in God's condescension towards us, operates at a radically different level and lifts us to far greater heights than anything that any human mystical elevation could ever accomplish. Deus Caritas Est 13

God so loved the world. I don't think we fully understand the gravity of that statement by St John. To Aristolte, the First Cause was drawing all things to himself, drawn by eros like a divine magnet. Aristotle never spoke of a reciprocity on God's part. He only received the love of every material thing. In the Enlightenment, there arose in thought a concept of God known as the Divine Watchmaker, who set everything into order, wound it up, and stepped back. No love there. Some even have the concept of God who is judge alone who is taking notes on each sin in order to damn us to eternal fire.

The Holy Spirit rectifies these views with the words of the Apostle John, 'God so loved the world' and 'God is love'. What is love but self-gift? God gives Himself to us, His children, unreservedly. He gave Himself to Israel,redeeming them from slavery, forgiving them for idolatry, but most of all, by becoming human flesh through the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was in love that the Incarnation occurred. By so many, God's love is unrequited. In Jesus Christ love became flesh and blodd that we can love back.

As we saw in the Ascension, His flesh and blood had returned to the right hand of the Father. No longer could we see or touch or hear love Incarnate. But, 'God so loved the world that He gave His only Son'. In what way did He give His only Son? In the immolation and sacrifice on the cross at Calvary. Knowing that this was how He was going to be gift, Christ left us with a memorial of His offering, in which He, through His priests, re-presents Himself as gift, in love to us. 'The Eucharist draws us into Jesus' act of self-oblation. More than just statically receiving the incarnate Logos, we enter into the dynamic of his self-giving'. In the Eucharist we receive love. The love we receive touches the very core of our being, as creation, but more importantly, as Children of God. God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, reveals the fullness of love through the Eucharist. You are loved. I am loved. We are all loved in the mystery of the Eucharistic species. The most inconsequential media, unleavened bread and cheap wine, become the means by which we experience the infinite depths of God's love for us. Let us open our mouths and our hearts to receive Love.