My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
Grace and Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. We are concluding our Jubilee Year, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Diocese of Orlando. On the first Sunday of Advent, I proclaimed this Jubilee, the Year of the Eucharist. Together, we proclaimed, “Never more than at this time do we find our urgent prayer, Stay with us, Lord, burning in our hearts as it did with those disciples on the Road to Emmaus.”
During this Jubilee Year, we recommitted ourselves to the Eucharist as the source and summit of our Christian life. In our own physical reality, food plays a primary role in our well-being. In our spiritual reality, food plays a primary role in the story of salvation, from the forbidden fruit in the garden which brings forth sin and death to the food of Christ’s body on the tree of the cross offering us everlasting life. St. Augustine, writing on the nature of this sacred food, hears God say, “I am the food of grown men; grow, and you shall feed upon me; nor shall you change me, like the food of your flesh, into yourself, but you shall be changed into me.” It is not the Eucharistic food that is changed into us, but rather we who are mysteriously transformed by it.
What the world needs is God’s love; in that, we need to encounter the Christ and to believe in Him. In his message to the bishops of the United States in November 2016, Pope Francis said, “The Church in America, as elsewhere, is called to ‘go out’ from its comfort zone and to be a leaven of communion among ourselves, with our fellow Christians, and with all who seek a future of hope.”
During our Jubilee Year, we realized our hope that through the Eucharist, we too would taste and feel Jesus’ fulfilled promise, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). We had many wondrous celebrations; two which stand out for me are the Diocesan Convocation: The Gift of Sacred Mystery and Midday Prayer with the Conferral of Diocesan and Papal Honors. With you by my side, we opened our arms in welcome of each other, in welcome of the Lord. The many diocesan and papal honorees recognized during Midday Prayer on November 4 called us to holiness, satisfied through our partaking of the Eucharist as we make holy every moment of our daily living. Pope Francis said the moment of Consecration of the Eucharist is an invitation, “calling us to experience the intimate union with Christ, source of joy and holiness.”
What is your ‘take-away’ from our Jubilee Year? I pray that our focus on the Eucharist did offer you an epiphany of understanding of this ultimate Gift of sacrificial love of God. I pray that in the depth of our heart, we have a deep desire to remain within this Sacrament and never let go of our hunger for God so that we are filled and fill others through Real Presence. Mostly I pray that the Eucharist delivers forgiveness from the core of the heart of God to each one; that we taste His Peace.
May our urgent prayer of this Jubilee Year, Stay with us, Lord, echo throughout the land as we, through the Gift of the Eucharist, bring forth the love of God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind. May we rest in His Peace that His Kingdom cannot be destroyed.
Diocese of Orlando