We Christians face the challenges in the breaking of the bread in the postmodern era. However, we are invited to practice the values of the Kingdom. Humanly speaking, we fail a good number of times to live our Christian life as that of Christ due to our own weaknesses and limitations. On the other hand, every Eucharist reminds us to break ourselves as Christ did in His life.
Broken People in All the Spheres
The world is full of inequalities of various kinds. Some people are comparatively rich; most are not. Some are fairly well educated; others are illiterate. Some lead easy lives; others toil hard for little reward. Some are politically powerful; others cannot influence anything outside their immediate sphere. Some have substantial opportunities for advancement in life; others lack them altogether. Some are treated with respect by the police no matter what they have done; others are treated like dirt at the slightest suspicion of transgression.
The Church is known for its multi-religious traditions on the one hand and for oppressive structures, caste and race discrimination and increasing poverty that reduces the vast majority to living in a subhuman conditions on the other hand. This leaves us with an unsolved question: What do all those Masses do for us Christians? What does it mean when we hear the words of Jesus to “do this in remembrance of me”?
We are convinced that there must be a deeper significance involved in this memorial command of Jesus. The deeper significance strongly emerges from the rich meaning of the concept of the Spirit sanctifying the gifts and the assembly. Becoming one body in Christ to be united in the body of Jesus and live His memorial command essentially demands commitment.
One can never genuinely celebrate the Eucharist and remain indifferent to the issues affecting the community. This quest evoked my interest to undertake this work to address the challenges involved in the authentic celebration of the Eucharist.
The efforts to offer everyone access to a fair share in the resources of the earth, both existing and potential, must be true and genuine worship. An ideal Eucharist and a tangible experience of the rite would be Jesus taking, blessing, breaking and distributing bread among hungry Christians who leave the table of the Eucharist with the spiritual and moral energy needed to engage in alleviating social injustice in order to make the people self-reliant.
Need for the Eucharist
There are many ways of describing the life that we receive in the Eucharist. Our life is strengthened when we eat Christ’s flesh and drink His blood. It is new life, new-covenant life, divine life, eternal life, spiritual life and true life. It is also the grace, the favor or gift of God, the sanctifying grace, the grace that makes us holy. It is also sharing in the divine nature, divinization and participation in the life of God.
The Eucharist can bring us to consciousness, resulting in personal psychological wholeness. The Eucharist calls us to imitate Christ’s self-sacrificing love, leading us into holiness. The Eucharist can bring us into physical wholeness, sometimes immediately, but more often over a period of regularly receiving the sacrament in faith. The Eucharist can be a way to pray effectively for the transformation of our world or, in other words, a way to intercede for loved ones, to bring healing for people’s illnesses, and to improve their situations as they suffer.
Each time we come to the Lord’s Supper, we freely choose to take care of one another as we take care of ourselves (the golden rule). Eucharist humanizes us, both on personal and community levels.
We are called by the Eucharist to be our best selves. The Eucharist becomes not only food for each of our souls and for each of our communities, but it also becomes the incentive of love for all our brethren who need help, understanding and solidarity, thus enriching social action with energy, idealism and hope. This flame of love will never be extinguished as long as Christ is with us in His Eucharist.
The Eucharist and Authentic Community Living
God assembles us as ordinary people and gives us the choice to become the mystical Body of Christ on earth. The Church is a group of people who think, feel and act in the power and personality of Jesus, because He gives us His spirit and His gifts. The indwelling of God empowers ordinary people to accomplish His divine will on earth, because their unity in Him makes them the body of Christ, a witnessing community.
The Lord’s Supper is the ultimate rite of “humanization” that is one of becoming the best that a human being can be — physically, psychologically and spiritually. We need to be humanized because we are not entirely human with our egocentricity, selfishness, pride, hostility toward other people, rebelliousness toward God’s will, the desire to remain unconscious of our true selves, resistance toward personal growth, and not recognizing our own or others’ giftedness. But these dimensions of our personalities can be humanized as we commemorate Jesus in the Eucharist, thereafter imitating Him in our lives.
Union with Jesus that excludes others in whom He finds His identity (the Body of Christ) is no union at all. Pope Paul VI indicates that the Eucharist provides Christian communicants nourishment in the form of moral energy for social action. The contemporary Christians who share the consecrated bread and wine at the liturgy are invited to practice fraternity and generosity like Christ in their social environment.
This has given us glimpses of Eucharistic celebration in the present-day world and the loopholes that are found in living out the Eucharist in the world. We have to be more conscious as to live the Eucharist in our day-to-day life. This is the symbolism that Christ used when he broke himself on the cross on Good Friday. As Christians, we have to live a life that is one of witnessing, in order to bring the drifting souls to one fold, the Church. The people have to be taught by living the life that Christ lived.
It is our mission and task as future leaders of the Church.
FATHER SINGARAYAR, S.V.D., has written articles for international and national journals including The Priest magazine. He is also the author of the book Wellspring of Love.