Third Wednesday of Paschaltide
The adorable mystery of the Eucharist illumines all of Paschaltide because, for the Christian, it illumines all of life. Paschaltide might just as well be called Eucharist-tide! The Eucharist is the sacrament of Our Risen Lord’s abiding presence, and the sacrifice of His Passion and Death renewed on the altar in an unbloody manner for the sake of the living and the dead.
Saint Thomas Aquinas tells us that for the sick, the Eucharist is an encounter with the Physician of Life; for the unclean, it is the fountain of mercy; for the blind, it is the light of eternal brightness; for the poor and needy, it is the open treasury of the Lord of heaven and earth.
Our Lord is, in the Most Holy Eucharist, just as He is in the glory of heaven. He stands before His Father, offering Himself as Victim and Priest. He displays His glorious wounds to the Father, and allows them to speak for themselves on our behalf. How well I remember sitting in a classroom thirty years ago, listening to the saintly Dominican Father Urban Mullaney passionately expound the Eucharist as the sacrament of the Christus Passus: Christ in the very act of His passing-over to the Father by suffering, dying, rising, and ascending to His right hand. In the Eucharist there is no remote “there and then.” The mystery perpetually unfolds before the Father, and before the Church, in the “now” of eternity.
Every Year a Year of the Eucharist
Paschaltide is the Church’s spatium laetissimum, her space of exceeding great joy. We read the Acts of the Apostles in order to discover there the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in the Church and among us. And we read the sixth chapter of Saint John in order to receive from it the grace of a Eucharistic renewal affecting all of life. For one who enters deeply into the Church’s Year of Grace, living Paschaltide as the Church intends it to be lived, every year is a Year of the Eucharist.
The Bread of Life
Today’s Gospel gives us but five verses, but they are enough to sustain a lifetime. “It is I who am the bread of life; he who comes to me will never be hungry, he who has faith in me will never thirst” (Jn 6:35). Take these words of Our Lord. Make them your own. Turn them around and address them to Him. “Thou, O Lord, art the bread of life. Thou art the bread of my life, my daily bread, the sustenance without which I will grow weak, and falter, and perish on the way. I come to Thee, that I may never be hungry. Give me faith in Thee, that I may never thirst.
Not For Myself Alone
It is not enough, Lord Jesus, that I should pray to Thee for myself alone. Enlarge my poor, narrow heart to the dimensions of Thy Eucharistic Heart. I pray to Thee for all whom the Father has entrusted to Thee, that they may come to Thee, all of them. I know that Thou wilt never cast out one who comes to Thee, because Thy Father would have Thee keep without loss, and raise up at the last day, all He has entrusted to Thee.”
Let there be nothing narrow, nothing small and limited about your approach to the Most Holy Eucharist. When you go before the Blessed Sacrament, follow the example of Saint Francis of Assisi and of so many other saints; say to Our Lord, “I adore Thee present here and in all thy churches throughout the world.” Ask Our Lord to transport your soul to those tabernacles before which no one stops to adore Him, in which He is forsaken, forgotten, or treated with indifference and coldness. Adore Him for the sake of those who never adore Him. Thank Him for the sake of those who never thank Him. Remain in His presence for the sake of those who never linger in the radiance of His Eucharistic Face.
For the Life of the World
And when you receive Holy Communion, be mindful of those who, through no fault of their own, are deprived of the Sacred Body and Precious Blood of Our Lord: the elderly, prisoners, the sick, the dying, and those who are suffering persecution for the sake of the Gospel. Tell Our Lord that you are receiving His Body and Blood for the sake of those who cannot receive Him, for the sake of those who no longer approach Him in His sacraments, and for the sake of those who have cut themselves off from His living Mystical Body, the Church. This is what it means to receive Holy Communion for another. It is to say to Our Lord: “I receive Thee, Lord Jesus, that Thou wouldst heal the wounded, cure the sick, enlighten the blind, wash the unclean, clothe those stripped of Thy grace, and rescue those in the throes of temptation.”
The danger that threatens our world is not “global warming” — it is rather a global chill. It is the coldness of a loss of faith in the adorable mystery of the Eucharist. For this, there is but one remedy: we are to cast ourselves into the blazing holocaust of every Mass, there to be consumed in the flames of Love Crucified.