Reflections: September 2018

By Father Chris Thomas

Living the Eucharist

As we prepare for the Eucharistic Congress I have been reflecting on my experience of the Eucharist. When I used to take young people to Lourdes over 30 years ago, there was a tent on the prairie where 24-hour exposition of the Blessed Sacrament took place. It was the most simple, beautiful place you can imagine. I loved going there and sitting before the Lord in the midst of a busy pilgrimage.

While I was there one day I got a sense that the Lord was speaking to me deeply within. Inside myself I heard the words 'Don't just worship me, follow me'. I remember being profoundly moved by this and all sorts of pictures went through my mind of people that I ministered too. I realised that whenever I gave of myself through loving service I was being Eucharist to others. It has affected my whole life. I have realised that we are to become what we receive, rather than just worship the Lord present in the Eucharist, as wonderful as that can be.

Maybe the invitation we are all being given is to recognise the presence of the risen Lord in our Eucharistic gathering. We are being encouraged to know that He is there in the people who gather, He is there in the Word that is proclaimed, and He is there too in the food we receive. If we can recognise Him in elements so ordinary as bread and wine, then maybe we will have the courage to recognise Him everywhere else too. 

Saint Augustine said that we who are the body of Christ receive the body of Christ to become the body of Christ. What we have received we are to become so that we can feed the world with this Jesus who brings life. Eucharist was never meant to be simply about adoration. It is meant to draw us deeply into relationship with Jesus and with others.

Every time we break the bread, we identify with every brother and sister who is broken. Every time we drink from the cup, we identify with everyone who shares themselves with another. If this gift forces us into relationship with our brothers and sisters, then we can't stand by and let them suffer. We can't judge the poor and the broken. Eucharist binds us together and draws us into community.