Daily Thought For July 14, 2015
Beautiful Insights On The Eucharist
Next to the word stands the sacrament. Luke refers to it right away according to what is at its heart: They remained steadfast in the breaking of bread. Ultimately, the Church draws her life from the Eucharist, from this real, self-giving presence of the Lord. Without this ever-new encounter with him, she would necessarily wither. That is why our priesthood, too, draws life from the eucharistic community with the Lord, from the way that the Eucharist is the constant heart and strength of our life. Anyone who repeatedly exposes himself to it and confides in it will be changed. You cannot walk constantly with the Lord, cannot ever anew pronounce these tremendous words, This is my Body and my Blood, you cannot touch the Body of the Lord again and again, without being affected by him and challenged by him, being changed and led by him. We may of course lag behind him, and will again and again lag immeasurably far behind, but in the long run there are only really two possibilities: either to shake off the Eucharist, with the enormous demands and power it sets up in life, or to surrender to it, to hold fast to it. Anyone who holds fast to the Lord will not be abandoned by him. Anyone who grapples with him calmly and patiently, humbly and sincerely, will be led by him; he will never be denied his light.
They remained steadfast in the breaking of bread. A parish priest of this diocese, who died this year, once told me, in a most moving way, how he had personally experienced this saying. As a soldier he took part in the invasion of Crete and went to look for a billet in a house. He noticed there how the man who met him was having a struggle because he was suffering on account of this trampling upon his homeland and because he knew that he himself would be in danger if he offered hospitality in this case. But he saw how in the end the man overcame his feelings, invited him to sit at the table, took a piece of bread, broke it in two, and gave him a piece of bread. And he noticed that this was more than a mere gesture; he realized what it meant: I accept you as a guest, as a brother; this is my life, you are protected by my life, just as I accept the danger to myself. He had noticed how, when the man was tearing the bread up, it was as if he were really sharing out his own life, giving of his own without taking notice of the danger threatening him. And still, after nearly forty years, the emotion of this experience, of how that life was shared-out with the bread, still made him tremble.
Christ genuinely shared himself out, gave himself with the torn-up bread, so that his life might be ours: that is the incredible event that occurs ever anew. Herein lies the great significance of the Eucharist, and that is why it is no game, but quite real. When death comes onstage the game is at an end. Man is set before the truth. But only when this encounter reaches right down unto death can true hope arise for man. Christ shares himself with us. Let us take this to heart again and again, so that we may share him out; it is immediately clear that we can devote ourselves to the breaking of bread only if we ourselves become breakers of bread in the fullest sense. Hence the Eucharist is the true motive power for all social transformation in the world. From Elizabeth of Hungary, by way of Nicholas of Flüe and Vincent de Paul, right up to Mother Teresa, it is evident that wherever the gestures of the Lord, the breaker of bread, are accepted, then the breaking of bread must be carried on right into everyday life. There is no longer any stranger there who means nothing to me; rather, there is a brother there who calls on me and who is waiting for the broken bread, to find a resting place in his love.
Ratzinger, J. (2003). God is Near Us: The Eucharist, the Heart of Life. (H. Taylor, Trans., S. O. Horn & V. Pfnür, Eds.) (pp. 126–128). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.