Jesus is Here for Our Sake
St Luke paints a down-to-earth picture of Jesus walking in Palestine, "speaking to the crowds about the Kingdom of God," "healing those who needed to be cured", and even making sure they had enough to eat.
This picture shows how close Jesus wants to be to us. That's a central message of today's feast of the Body and Blood of Christ.
- Back in first century Palestine, Jesus spent all his time doing things for others.
- His whole life was for others, for us.
- He came for us; he came to be our Savior and to be the Friend who will never let us down.
And he wanted to make sure that we would never forget that.
So he figured out a way to remain with us even after he died, rose, and ascended into heaven.
He has remained with us not only in the holy Scriptures, not only in the living Church, not only in the examples of the saints, but even under the humble and silent appearances of bread and wine.
- In the Eucharist, he is as close to us as he was to those people who walked with him on the dusty roads of Palestine.
- In fact, he is even closer. Those people received bread at his hands, but we receive the Lord himself in Holy Communion.
ILLUSTRATION: Two Popes Speak Out
John Paul II's last encyclical emphasized this desire of Christ to stay close to us, a desire that expresses itself most eloquently in the Eucharist.
Pope Benedict XVI re-emphasized the same point. The Eucharist is the ultimate manifestation of God's love.
- "The Holy Eucharist is the gift that Jesus Christ makes of himself.
This is not just theory. This is reality.
Christ's close presence, most evident in the Eucharist, gives us strength to fulfill our life's mission and discover the happiness he wishes for us.
As Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, the Eucharist "...is the spiritual food that sustains me".
ILLUSTRATION: Blessed Mother Teresa's Secret
- More than once reporters and photographers came to Calcutta to do a story on this remarkable woman.
- They would always find her washing a leper, or bandaging a cripple who was dying
- More often than not, the reporters would have to wait outside because they couldn't stand the stench.
- One day, Mother Teresa took in a woman off the streets of Calcutta.
- Her body was a mess of open sores infested with bugs.
- Mother Teresa patiently bathed her, cleaning and dressing her wounds.
- The woman never stopped shrieking insults and threats at her. Mother Teresa only smiled.
- Finally, the woman snarled, "Sister, why are you doing this? Not everyone behaves like you. Who taught you?"
- She replied simply, "My God taught me."
- When the woman asked who this god was, Mother Teresa kissed her on the forehead and said: "You know my God. My God is called love."
APPLICATION: Being God's Co-Workers
Christ's real presence in the Eucharist is how he stays close those, like us, who believe in him.
But how does he stay close to those who don't believe in him?
- How does he make his presence known to the people all around us who are searching for happiness in the wrong places?
- He does it through us.
- In the Eucharist he comes to dwell in us, and then we carry him to others, through our example, words, and actions.
This is why the early Christians used to say that every Christian, every follower of Christ, was another Christ.
- The Eucharist is the extraordinary food that makes this possible.
- Ordinary food is absorbed by us and becomes part of our bodies.
- But when we receive the Eucharist, it absorbs us; it makes us into more and more mature, living members of Christ's body.
This is who we are: co-workers of God, created to put our talents at the service of building up his Kingdom.
- If we live this mission energetically, it gives us the meaning and fruitfulness we yearn for.
- Here's how Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta put it:
- "Each one of us is a co-worker of Christ - we must labor hard to carry Him to the hearts where He has not yet been known and loved.
- "But, unless we have Jesus, we cannot give Him; that is why we need the Eucharist.
- "Spend as much time as possible in front of the Blessed Sacrament and He will fill you with His strength and His power."
Today, as Jesus comes to us again in Holy Communion, let's thank him for the great gift of his presence, promise to make even better use of it, renew our commitment to be faithful, Christ-filled co-workers of God.