Be Eucharist, Be Empowerers

I have stressed that Jesus gave us Eucharist, his Love Meal, as the medium for creating Christian Community, the Beloved Community. Now, I suggest that Jesus offers us the Eucharist as a life vision, a way to live our lives. In fact, to be truly a Christian, we must become Eucharist, empowerers of others.

Eucharistic Power Source. As his last gift to us, Jesus chose to become Eucharist which we celebrate during the Love Meal that is the Mass. Jesus chose to be the gift that empowers us to live lives of love and to be united with our sisters and brothers in the Beloved Community. That is what Eucharist is all about—empowerment and union. Really empowerment for union. That is the goal of attending Mass. To encounter the source of Divine Love and become transformed by that power for greater union with Our Father, the Risen Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Beloved Community.

Jesus was Eucharist long before he was ever Eucharist sacramentally. In his divine wisdom, he found a way to perpetuate his earthly life of empowering others for deeper love and union. Through the gift of his Love Meal, Jesus became the ultimate and eternal source for bringing us to wholeness and holiness. Through the dance of the Mass, Jesus leads us to offer ourselves for the Beloved Community, to be consecrated with him for sacrifice, and finally to join him in becoming Eucharist for our sisters and brothers, receiving one another as bread and wine. Truly an empowering Love Meal!

Eucharistic Life Vision. In addition to being the source of empowerment, Jesus in the Eucharist presents us with a whole new life vision. A life vision based on us being Eucharist, not just at the time of receiving Communion, but in the way we live our relationships with others. Just as Jesus led a life of empowering others during his life on earth and now in our Eucharistic Celebrations, we are called to empower others and bring others into deeper union with God, themselves, others, life, reality.

There is a scene in the Gospels where a woman, in the days just prior to Jesus’ death, anoints his feet with a costly perfume. The bystanders object to her lavish action, but Jesus says: “She has just anointed me for my impending death.” In The Holy Longing, Fr. Ronald Rolheiser interprets Jesus’ words: “Because of this it will be easier to not to give in to bitterness, easier to die. Knowing that I am so loved it will be easier to leave this world without anger in my heart.” I would add: This woman was Eucharist to Jesus, in the sense of her being empowerment to him. That is the life vision that Jesus as Eucharist is calling us to live.

Eucharistic Commitment. Inspired by Fr. Rolheiser, on our 53rd wedding anniversary, I wrote my wife a note in which I quoted his comments on the above scripture passage. I added: “I want to say to you that your deep love for me has anointed me for living a fuller and richer life, and prepares me for meeting our Infinite Lover. Because you have taught me that love exists, I can have love, hope and faith.”

The Church has not provided married couples with a life vision, a model of holiness, for their marriages. But I believe that Jesus has done so in his gift of Eucharist. Marriage might even be called the State of Eucharist. Two people committed to be empowerers of each other for growth in love and union, and extending their Eucharistic experience to others.

Of course, there is a danger in calling marriage the “State of Eucharist,” just as it is a danger in calling religious life the “State of Perfection.” For all are called to holiness. And all are called to be Eucharist to others, to be the empowerers of others. Jesus gave us this life vision by the example of his life and by his last gift of Eucharist to us.

Eucharistic Surprises. My insight that Jesus has given us a life vision in the Eucharist might have remained just a notion. But encounters with people who have surprisingly been Eucharist to me have confirmed this insight. Let me give you two examples.

There is Sonya from Kosovo who sits by herself on the other side of the main aisle at our church forMass.She doesn’t speak English. I took the risk of going over to her and saying to her “Pace” at the Kiss of Peace. She understood it. Now she looks for my greeting at Mass, shakes my hand with great gusto and radiates deep warmth. She is Eucharist to me. She empowers me to receive Eucharist with an awakened heart!

Due to doctor appointments, my wife and I were absent one week from daily Mass.Before Mass began, Beth greeted us with, “Where have you been?” and embraced us warmly. Now being convinced that Jesus gave us a Love Meal in the Mass, I had wanted to greet the congregation in that spirit when I did the readings. But fear held me back. After that embrace, I mounted the pulpit and looked directly at the congregation and said: “My Beloved Community. My sisters and my brothers. The reading is from…” I have continued this practice. Beth was Eucharist to me. She empowered me.

Eucharistic Living. Living the Eucharistic Life Vision, being empowerers of others, anointing them for love and unity, is a necessity if we are to carry on Jesus’ ongoing Incarnation. In the Holy Longing, Fr. Rolheiser explains that Jesus was made flesh at his Incarnation and continues to dwell among us, and in some mysterious way he has gathered us into his ongoing Incarnation as the Body of Christ. And now acts through us!

Further, Jesus has given us not only his presence, but his powers to carry on his ongoing Incarnation and mission. We can forgive, we can heal, we can bind others to Christ through our love. Being the Christ that we are already in some mysterious way is our great challenge. Eucharist is both our power source and our life vision. Unless we grow into a Eucharistic Life Vision, we will not take possession of Jesus’ powers. To be truly a Christian, we must become Eucharist, empowerers of others.



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