Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Overthrowing the Citadel

Saint Paul says, “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread” (1 Cor 10:17). Union with Christ is also union with all those to whom he gives himself. I cannot possess Christ just for myself; I can belong to him only in union with all those who have become, or who will become, his own.

Communion draws me out of myself towards him, and thus also towards unity with all Christians. We become “one body”, completely joined in a single existence. Love of God and love of neighbour are now truly united: God incarnate draws us all to himself. We can thus understand how agape also became a term for the Eucharist: there God's own agape comes to us bodily, in order to continue his work in us and through us.

Only by keeping in mind this Christological and sacramental basis can we correctly understand Jesus' teaching on love. The transition which he makes from the Law and the Prophets to the twofold commandment of love of God and of neighbour, and his grounding the whole life of faith on this central precept, is not simply a matter of morality—something that could exist apart from and alongside faith in Christ and its sacramental re-actualization.

Faith, worship and ethos are interwoven as a single reality which takes shape in our encounter with God's agape. Here the usual contraposition between worship and ethics simply falls apart. “Worship” itself, Eucharistic communion, includes the reality both of being loved and of loving others in turn. A Eucharist which does not pass over into the concrete practice of love is intrinsically fragmented.

Deus Caritas Est 14,

Reflection – I am writing this from the parish rectory in Fort Coulonge, Quebec (where??), my home base while I give parish missions in nearby parishes of Vinton and Otter Lake (where????). My theme for the mission is “Living the Eucharist” – looking at the Mass as teaching us how to live, giving us a pattern for our lives.

Well, this quote from Deus Caritas Est just about sums up everything I have to say on the subject! In the Mass, Jesus pours out his whole being for us in love and gift; in our lives we are to pour out our whole being for one another in love and gift. In the Mass, Jesus gives us His very self to be our food and drink, our strength and our life; in our lives, we can only be true to the Eucharist we celebrate by living and loving as Jesus does, and this power is in us because He is in us, because of the Mass.

It is the whole business of being drawn out of ourselves, of having the citadel of the self, the ego, be overthrown. This is the purpose of Lent, right? On a certain fundamental level? And here it is at the Mass. A good Lenten observance if you can do it: go to Mass every day. Right there is the whole meaning and substance of life opened up for us, drawing us in, giving us what we need to live it out in our lives. And that whole meaning and substance is ‘love’.

Being loved and loving others in return: this is ‘living the Eucharist’.

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