Sunday, October 09, 2016

What do we see? (Closing of 40 Hours)

When we bow down, kneel down, before the Eucharist, 
what we are worshipping?

God, of course! Jesus, our Lord and Savior. And of course that’s true.

But let’s recall what we believe about the Eucharist: 
in the Holy Mass, Christ himself acts, 
and the Sacrifice of Calvary becomes present 
under the signs and actions of the Mass. 
And in particular, the bread and wine 
become the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus.

Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Three of those words denote humanity.
We remember that in the Incarnation – 
in that moment when Mary said yes to God the Father, 
speaking through the angel,
and the God the Holy Spirit overshadowed her – 
God the Son was united with a human nature in that instant. 
That’s what we celebrate on March 25, 
nine months before Jesus birth on Christmas.

So of course Jesus is both human and divine, 
and this remains true to this moment. 
He is on the throne of heaven as a man and as God. 
And when the miracle of the sacrifice of the Mass happens, 
the Victim on the altar is truly Jesus, 
which means, his divinity and his humanity.

So let’s reflect a little more on this, 
particularly the humanity of Jesus in the Eucharist. 
What does this mean to us?

Remember that when we see the humanity of Jesus, 
it isn’t just his humanity; it’s our humanity. That was the whole point. 
As we say in the Creed: “For us men and for our salvation, 
he came down from heaven; 
and by the power of the Holy Spirit, was incarnate – 
that is, made flesh – by the Virgin Mary, and became man.” 
On Christmas, we genuflect at those words, 
because what we profess is so wonderful! 
He became what we are, for us, for our salvation. 
He shares our same human nature.

Now, there’s an objection: his human nature is different, 
because he has no sin. Yes, it’s true he has no sin; 
but it’s a misunderstanding to say that his human nature isn’t ours. 
I have two legs. If one is broken, does that mean it’s not my leg? 
Our human nature is wounded by sin; 
but in Jesus, our brother, 
we see what it looks like without any wound of sin. 

Jesus took our nature. He became one of our family.

Now, the other thing about this to notice is that 
when we behold the Eucharist, we are seeing God, 
but not a God who is distant. 
Rather, God who comes close, so close he became one of us. 

So, as shocking as it may be to say, 
when we see the Eucharist, we see one of us! 
We see Jesus-God, but also, Jesus-man. 
His humanity is our humanity. That is our hope!

And to take it another step. 
What’s wonderful about God becoming man, 
is that in doing so, he doesn’t become just another human being; 
he joins himself to every one of us. 

Every man, woman and child, past, present and future. 
When we worship the Eucharist, we don’t see his wounds, 
his suffering, and his death, 
which we heard described by the Apostle John, but they are all there – 
along with his birth, his upbringing, his life with his family, 
his poverty, his work; his weariness, his joys and trials. 
In short, everything that the human family experiences, 
he took to himself. 

When we behold the Eucharist, 
we behold God in solidarity with the entire human race!

This is a wonder, because it means that nothing 
in our human experience is rejected or left out. 
Even, in a particular way, our sinfulness! 
No, God does not accept our sins, 
but he accepts us even while we are sinners. 
He forgives us and he gives us his life, through the sacraments, 
to be transformed and healed. 

But remember, when Jesus rose from the dead, 
and when he ascended to the throne of Heaven, 
he still bore his wounds. They didn’t disappear. 
That is a sign for us: whatever trials we have, 
including our battle with sin, is not nothing to him. 
He joined himself to humanity in our struggle, 
to fight with us and for us, to win for us!

And we might recall the shocking words of Saint Paul, who said, 
“He who knew no sin became sin for us”! 
Jesus’ solidarity with humanity 
went to the absolute furthest point it possibly could. 
Jesus never committed sin, he was never corrupted by it;
And yet it would seem he came as close as possible.

It’s awful and wonderful. 
He took all sin upon himself, 
and in the ugliness of what was done to him, 
we know the horror of sin, 
the horror of what man becomes without grace – 
the horror of what we are saved from.

Jesus gave us the Eucharist, we know, 
that we would not only adore his Body and Blood, 
but above all, to receive him in communion. 
As the word “communion” makes clear, 
the point is both simple and impossible to grasp: 
we are united with God! 

This is why it is so terrible to approach the Eucharist 
when in mortal sin – our heart is not ready, our action is not true. 

On the other hand, when we come with readiness – 
limited as our capacity is – we have a foretaste of heaven, 
when we will really know what true communion is.

Heaven! That is what we see when we behold the Eucharist! 
Heaven, where God and humanity are united forever. 
Heaven, where the slain Lamb, the risen Lamb, is at the center…

Except that isn’t somewhere else. Jesus is here! Heaven is here! 
Praise God! 

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