The Path of Life

The Path of Life

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Christ's embrace

"The bread that we break,
is it not a participation in the body of Christ?
Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many,
are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf."

1Corinthians 10:16-17

NOTE: The following is an excerpt from today's second reading at Vigils in the Archabbey Church, a commentary on 1Corinthians 10:14-11:1. It is a succinct, straightforward, and inspiring exposition on what the Eucharist truly means (or should mean) for all Catholics.

From the very beginning, Christianity was meant to express the unity of the one Lord who unites us all in his embrace from the Cross, an embrace that goes beyond the frontiers drawn by earthly life and that forms us into one body.

The Eucharist is not a private matter among friends, taking place in a club of like-minded people where congenial spirits meet together. On the contrary, just as the Lord allowed himself to be crucified publicly outside the city walls, stretching out his hands to all, the Eucharist is the public worship celebrated by all whom the Lord calls, irrespective of who they are. So it is an essential constituent of the eucharistic celebration, just as it was a feature of the Lord's earthly life, that people of different party groups, different classes and views are brought together in the larger context of his word and love.

We can still discern, in the documents of the New Testament, how people continually tried to resist this kind of inclusive fellowship and wanted to enclose themselves in their own circle, and we can also see how the Eucharist asserted its meaning all the more, namely, to be a focus of assembly, transcending barriers and leading people into a new unity in the Lord. The Eucharist continued to unite people who would otherwise not mix.

We come together beyond party and class boundaries, beyond the distinction between rulers and ruled, manual workers and intellectuals, people of this or that walk of life. And the essential thing is that we are gathered here by the Lord, that he has led us to each other. We should go forth from this hour, challenged to accept one another inwardly too, to open ourselves to one another, to go to meet each other; we should carry with us, into the manifold preoccupations of daily life, this inner reality of having been gathered together by the Lord.

There are many kinds of gatherings of people, but so often they are united by what they are against rather than by what they are for. But when Catholics come together for Mass, what binds us together is not the private interest of this or that group, but the interest which God takes in us. And we can calmly and confidently entrust all our interests to him.

We commit ourselves to the Lord. And the more we commit ourselves to the Lord and stand before him, the more we stand together with one another. When we do this, we discover how to understand one another and to recognize each other as human beings, as brothers and sisters. In this way, we are laying the foundations for humanity and making our fellowship with one another possible.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger
(Pope Benedict XVI), 1986

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