By Bishop Alberto Rojas
Dear friends, peace and wellbeing to you and to your families. As you might have already heard, the Catholic Church in the United States is organizing a Eucharistic Revival, which has already started this year. Later, we will give you more details on the activities we will have here in our Diocese. For this reason, I would like to offer a brief and simple reflection on the real and true presence of our Lord Jesus in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.
There are people, including Catholics, who doubt or deny this reality. Yet, others think that Jesus only meant it in a symbolic way. However, the truth is that Jesus, Himself, said it clearly and confirmed it in the Gospels, despite the scandal of many people who heard it personally at that time.
Let us listen, for example, to the passage in the Gospel of John 6:52-56: “The Jews started arguing among themselves, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ So Jesus replied, ‘I am telling you the truth, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood, lives in me and I in him.’ ”
I believe these words of Jesus are very clear. So, in each Mass that we celebrate, after the consecration in the Eucharistic Prayer, Jesus is really and truly present on the Altar. The species of bread and wine are transformed into the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus, in a mystical way with his soul and divinity.
That is how we declare it in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharist sacrifice of his Body and Blood. This he did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the Cross throughout the ages until he should come again, and so to entrust to his beloved Spouse, the Church, a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a paschal banquet ‘in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of the future glory is given to us (CCC 1323).”
So, the appearances of bread and wine remain, but for those of us who believe in the words of Jesus, when we receive Holy Communion, we receive the same Jesus Christ himself, our Lord and Savior.
According to Christ Jesus’ intention, the Eucharist was not meant to be celebrated just once. Jesus wanted his apostles and successors to celebrate it forever in his memory. The command of Jesus in the Gospel of Saint Luke 22:19-20 is very clear: “Then Jesus took the bread, and after giving thanks, he broke it and gave it to them saying, ‘This is my body, which is given to you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ And the same He did with the wine, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood which is poured out for you.’
Also from our Catechism, we learn that “The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christina life. The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch (CCC 1324).”
Finally, according to Saint Paul (1 Cor 15:28), by the Eucharistic celebration we already unite ourselves with the heavenly liturgy and anticipate eternal life, when God will be all in all. In addition, according to Saint Irenaeus of Lyon (Adversus Haereses 4, 18,5), the Eucharist is the sum and summary of our faith. He said: “Our way of thinking is attuned to the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in turn confirms our way of thinking,” and obviously, our way of acting as well.
Thank you for your attention. Peace and God’s blessings to all.