This is the final installment of the Pastoral Letter written by Bishop John Noonan, The Eucharist: God Among Us.
Being a Eucharist with Jesus
For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life (John 3:16).
It is not the Eucharist who is changed into us, but rather we who are transformed by Him.
From receiving Jesus, we are compelled to go forth wrapped in His love to bring His love, the Eucharist, to one another. We become His dwelling place. “When, at the Visitation, Mary bore in her womb the Word made flesh, she became in some way a “tabernacle” – the first “tabernacle” in history – in which the Son of God, still invisible to our human gaze, allowed himself to be adored by Elizabeth, radiating his light as it were through the eyes and the voice of Mary. And is not the enraptured gaze of Mary as she contemplated the face of the newborn Christ and cradled him in her arms that unparalleled model of love which should inspire us every time we receive Eucharistic communion” (Ecclesia de Eucharistia 55)?
St. Irenaeus wrote, “Our way of thinking is attuned to the Eucharist and the Eucharist in turn confirms our way of thinking.” How might our community be transfigured if we offer the love of God to one another freely with no expectation in return? When we receive Jesus, we accept His mandate. The love we give is united to Jesus. We present Him to one another. We are called to go out from our comfort zone and be a eucharist: to bring forth Jesus among ourselves and with our brothers and sisters wherever we encounter them.
Pope Francis said, “In practice, what does it mean to live this love? Before giving us this commandment, Jesus had washed the disciples’ feet; then, after giving it, he gave himself up to the wood of the cross. To love means this: to serve and to give one’s life. To serve . . . to share the charisms and gifts that God has given us. Specifically, we should ask ourselves, “What do I do for others?”
Living as Love
And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight (Luke 24:30,31).
After the Resurrection, two disciples were walking along the road to Emmaus and met Jesus as they walked; however, they were unable to recognize Him. It was only when He presented Himself to them as the Eucharist, that they recognized Him.
I think we are like those disciples still. Jesus is within each one of us and yet we do not see Him present. Remember Jesus speaks to us about recognizing Him as we are called to serve each other. The people asked, ‘When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ Jesus replied, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me’ (cf: Matthew 25:38-40).
Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM writes in one of his homilies, “We must make our lives a gift of love to the Father for the good of our brothers and sisters. We must make ourselves a Eucharist.”
Will you follow Jesus? Will you respond to His mandate to receive Him? Nourished by Jesus the Eucharist, will you be as Christ to one another?
May our Patroness, Mary, the Mother of God, who by her fiat shares in the redemption brought forth by her Son given to us as the Bread of Life through the Eucharist, lead us to serve as His dwelling place. Let us pray we transfigure our world into a Eucharist.
By Bishop John Noonan, December 19, 2022