Saturday, June 13, 2009


By Rev. Joe McCloskey, SJ

Christ given, self received

We are a Eucharist people. Our Church lives are built around the Eucharist. Eucharist today is the Sacrament most frequented. It is familiar without being fully understood because it is a mystery of our faith. God will always come to us when we receive Eucharist. Accepting Communion is accepting Christ. Communion brings us a deeper oneness with Christ. Eucharist brings with it both commitment and challenge. It is the perfect paradox of giving and receiving. Christ gives self and challenging our gratitude asks us to make a gift of ourselves. Christ freely gives himself and waits on our gift of self to complete Eucharist.

Want to be a Christ

Every Eucharist I receive opens the question of whether I really want to be a Christ. Christ becomes one with me. But he does not force himself on me. I have to welcome him into my life and my spirituality is the work of my becoming one with him. The question spirituality puts on every heart is quite simple. “Am I really willing to be who Christ would have been if he was lucky enough to be me?” Eucharist makes Christ the deepest reality of my life. My freely embracing the mind and the heart of Christ makes me over more fully into whom I am meant to be in Christ. Christ has to become my heartfelt response to life.

Christ’s heart = my heart

Eucharist is as open as the Sacred Heart. We can accept the gift of love. But when we try to put reasons on why another loves us, we take love out of mystery and mystery out of love. The heart has reasons the mind will never comprehend. In life, the mystery of the why of love is out of reach. Justice has a reason. Love does not have a reason. Love belongs to God and wherever there is love, God is there. Love is a response to life the mind grapples with without full comprehension. We often take love for granted even though love is nourished by affirmation.

Eucharist verifies freedom

The aura of mystery and faith surrounding Eucharist prevents total understanding. Eucharist to be gift needs freedom that gives its meaning to gift. Perfect gift calls for a return of love. In Eucharist the gift is Christ. The giving of Christ in Eucharist is intimately connected to the pain and love of the cross. His dying for us motivates the commitment and challenge of Eucharist. Eucharist and the love of Christ are one and the same mystery. That is why Eucharist and the Sacred Heart devotion belong together in our consideration.


Eucharist is the self-gift of Christ. The Eucharist of Christ's love is the giving up of his body and the shedding of his blood for the forgiveness of sins. When we have given up our bodies, shed our blood, washed clean the hurts and tended the suffering of our brothers and sisters around us, we will be a Christ-like Eucharist. The mystery of Eucharist is found in us by our willingness to be vulnerable, to be open, to share our lives and our love. Then we will be able to say with Christ: "This is my body which will be given for you...this is my blood which will be shed for you..."(Luke 22: 19,20).


Eucharist is a way of giving thanks. The most wonderful possible thanks is a total gift of self. Am I willing to be Eucharist for another? Can we truly be Eucharist for a vague someone? Can we ever say "thank you" enough to someone so as to be Eucharist? We need to be able to say "thank you" to the people who come into our lives, for their coming, for the gift they bring by being there. Eucharist, in our Church, is a sign of belonging. When we say thanks by a Eucharistic Celebration, we say “thanks” in Christ. Union with Christ makes our thanks his even as it makes us who we are in Christ. Such a ‘thank you’ gives life to the Church. Our life in Christ makes Christ our love to the Father. Christ becomes our perfect thanks to the Father.

Forever gratitude

Eucharist is the perfect thanks for a gift given without being asked. There is no way we would know how to give thanks for a gift we did not even recognize as given. How will we give thanks to the Lord for all he has given to us? The Psalmist says he will invoke the name of the Lord and be forgiven. Our thanks for forgiveness is heard in Eucharist as the richness of the Christ love we possess as children of God. Our Christ life in Eucharist becomes the cry of thanks ringing down through the ages as the life of the Mystical Body of Christ in us. Sharing Christ's life in Eucharist makes us a part of all the prayers of gratitude. The one same Eucharist belongs to all the ages before us and after us to the end of time. Christ's prayer rings through the ages to the end of time. Because we are part of the Mystical Body of Christ, we belong to all ages. Christ is the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow. In Christ we are all one.

Living Eucharist

Most of us have never really been challenged to say what Eucharist means. We need to be able to give Eucharist meaning in our lives by saying "thank you" for a gift that is our life. Then, we will really be able to live Eucharist and be Eucharist for each other. Eucharist is the most human mystery of our faith because it literally brings together, in a moment of time, a human response to God. Eucharist goes beyond receiving the bread and wine. Eucharist has a special meaning in each of us. We must be simple as children and as open to Eucharist as a child can be. The following is an example.

Touch of the Divine

A five-year-old child pestered his parents so persistently to receive Eucharist that he was taken to the parish priest. The priest questioned the lad to see if he really understood what the Eucharist was about. When asked what Eucharist meant, the young child took the priest by surprise when he answered: "Eucharist is that moment which happens to someone when he is caught up into God!" What the child was saying, whether he was aware of it or not, was that in the moment of receiving Eucharist, one comes to the realization of what heaven is all about. Heaven is not just someplace to be some day. In Eucharist the reality of heaven is anticipated today, in the here and now. Eucharist touches the beatitude of heaven in this moment. There should be an ecstasy in our Eucharist that is the reality of being caught up into God! Eucharist is our foothold in heaven.

Our life as Eucharist

Christ giving the Eucharist and being one with us needs to meet with our giving Eucharist and being one with him. If Christ is to be recognized in the breaking of the bread, then the Christ of our hearts will burst forth when we can be recognized by the giving of our lives. Eucharist is our life as gift. We have to choose to give the gift of our love and our life. Gift can not be forced out of us. The gift is received as the divine indwelling joining the receiver of the gift with the giver in our very selves. Love goes toward union, and there can be no union greater than the gift of Eucharist, our own and Christ's.

My body – Christ’s body

At the Last Supper Christ shared the last moments of his life with all the anxieties of a father who would have the last chance to talk to his children. He put his heart and his soul into trying to make sense out of the time he had spent with his apostles. The Last Supper discourse is a last will and testament. It reads with the urgency of one taking advantage of a final moment to say something. Eucharist sums up all Christ was trying to say with his life, making possible the giving of life, and claiming the deepest responses of life. The willingness to give became one with the actual giving on the cross. The legacy of Eucharist was willed to us at the Last Supper. We are reminded of this during our liturgical worship at the consecration of the bread and wine. Eucharist is commitment. When a priest holds up the piece of bread and says the words, "This is my body," Christ comes alive again. I am Christ. At that moment, I no longer live, but Christ lives in me! There are times that I am so overwhelmed by this statement it blows my mind. I have to allow the Christ who is the deepest meaning of my life to say, "This is my body". The purgative way, as found in the history of spirituality, is the dying to all the things I am, in order that Christ might truly live in all of me. I have got to be able to shove aside, strip myself of, and shuck all the accretions that our times, our history, our culture and sinfulness put in the way of Christ as the deepest meaning of human life.

Letting Christ out

Reaching the core reactor, the source of all energy, the door of the heart can be flung open and Christ can be let out on the world. Letting Christ out, I come alive with his love in this world. I am able to reach the moment of Eucharist; I am able to say: "This is my body," and mean: "Now I no longer live, but Christ lives in me."(Galatians 2:20)

Mystical Body

Priesthood can be misunderstood. We can lose sight of the fundamental fact that there is only one priest in the history of the Church - Jesus Christ. We are all capable of a share in his ministry. A priest may have a greater share in his power to institute the Eucharist, but together we are a priestly people. When a priest celebrates Eucharist in the name of the people, he is challenging all to celebrate their priesthood. The priest challenges the people to literally offer their bodies, so that the priest may really say in Christ: "This is my body!" Thus the Mystical Body of Christ comes alive.

Commitment to Community

This sets up the moment of Eucharist; the totality of our commitment to live the Christian life. The Christian, by definition, is another Christ. The priest is no longer standing alone before his community saying, "This is my body.” The entire community celebrates with him. He is fully priest when somehow or other he is evoking from everyone who is sharing Eucharist with him, that same response: "This is my body." The strength of our commitment to community and the way we offer our time and energy to each other makes Eucharist come alive as a radical statement of who we are in Christ.


In those who hold back in their offering of themselves, who do not want to give that total gift, their gift is incomplete. We do not invite just anyone to come to Eucharist, but rather invite those people who make a commitment in our Church to each other, to live their lives for each other, to share who they are and what they are for the sake of each other.

Forgiveness- Life-giving

Eucharist has to be the giving up of something essential for the sake of another. There is no greater essential than life. Eucharist is life giving. Christ loves us so much he gives us the very love he has from the Father. It is made possible by the truth of a forgiveness that is just as much a part of Eucharist as the bread that is broken and the wine that is poured. Eucharist is for the sake of forgiveness. The truth of forgiveness is new life. Love is forgiving and life giving at the same time. Eucharist reaches out to the need of another and allows the need of the other to replace our need. We truly have a right to life and we give away our right to life for the sake of another's need.

Freely given

Eucharist is a delicate and sensitive moment. Giving to each other has to be done freely to be gift. We can possess others in such a way that we demand what they give to us. For the gift to be Eucharist it has to be freely given. We have to work at creating the community that would excite people to make such a radical gift and commitment of themselves to each other. We have to want so desperately what the other is offering that our whole being cries out in pain when we cannot have the gift, which is Eucharist. Therefore, a Christian community will never be a boring community. How can we cope with the fact that we could go ten, twenty, thirty, fifty, seventy years as a Catholic, and were never challenged to make the radical commitment: "This is my body."

Atonement brings oneness

We come to the consecration of the wine. "This is my blood which will be shed for the forgiveness of sins." Jesus is offering his life for our sake. His atonement makes us one with each other. His gift adds another dimension to love. We make up for the weakness of our brothers and sisters. In our call to oneness, we must be able to transcend the differences that naturally exist, and see Christ present in each and every member of our community.

Real oneness

How do we deal with differences? The truth of a Christian community is found in the fact that differences do exist. Actually, the mystery of Eucharist is that a Christian community is to be known in the breaking of the bread, and the shedding of the blood. Any community boasting of having members who are all alike is not a Christian community. We do not have a name for it, but if there are not liberals and conservatives, old and young, middle-of-the-roaders, and all the rest, we are not talking about the mystery of how it is possible that such a group could love one another. The radicalness of Christian love is that, somehow or other, differences become unimportant in the light of seeing Christ as the reason to love those brothers and sisters who are apparently different.

Loves inward pull

Somehow the Christian community transcends the inner forces responsible for throwing everything off to the periphery; transcends it by a love that sends everything into the heart of Christ. The statement: See how those Christians love one another," is made from the perspective of this transcendent, centripetal love. The pain of communities, all those things in a community causing people to be rent asunder, the centrifugal force of sin, is set aside. Eucharist is the eternal word of the Sacred Heart, received as a love feeding every heart, nourishing us with Christ's life.

To be Eucharist is to be a giver

Eucharist is the perfect celebration of community. Eucharist belongs to the body of Christ, and while it might be true that a private moment of life could be Eucharist, the dynamic of Eucharist is always going to be the fulfillment that community makes possible. We need each other, and the sight of Eucharist should call us to be givers to each other. To be Eucharist is to be a giver. The only thing we can change in any relationship is what we are giving to the relationship. The truth of a good relationship is the truth of the Eucharist that is given. The more freely we give ourselves, the truer the Eucharist of our lives.


The giving community is a growing community. The community ceasing to give to the real needs of our world is a dying community. Eucharist will reach its fulfillment when our concern touches the whole world. Love calls us beyond the limitations of self-interest. Eucharist belongs to the dream of a world with no boundaries, where there will be no poor and needy. The destiny of Eucharist is that all the riches of our world will meet the needs of God's poor. Eucharist is God's desire to share, and we are worthy of Eucharist when we are willing to share all of our riches with the world. Eucharist is the begging of another to take advantage of our need. What makes it possible is the mystery of Eucharist at work in our hearts, calling us to be the richness of Christ's love to the world.

Human Made Divine

Christ's love is found in Eucharist. We may think of Eucharist as the reality of God's gift to us of his Son. We may think of ourselves as being worthy of this gift, and, therefore, in a sense, being equal to the gift, or we may think of Eucharist as our Lord reaching out and taking us to himself. Then, even as we transcend our human weakness, in that Divine Love, we find in Eucharist such a force of energy and power we are allowed to truly love, to dream the impossible dream, in a world that says that such love is absurd, a scandal, and ridiculous! There has to be in Christian love a radicalness that would make us jealous, would be so exciting that it would make us want to be a part of it.

Born Again

The Church has had to die again and again so as to reflect the meaning of Eucharist. The cross has always been a part of Christianity, and as such gives one of the deepest meanings of Eucharist. Those moments of history when it was not comfortable for people to be special servants of Christ, needed the strengthening power of Eucharist so that members of the Church would be equal to the difficult times, to persecution. Today, when it is difficult to be a priest or religious, even a Christian, it is necessary for us to have a deeper awareness and strength of Eucharist.

Never Alone

Eucharist is the guarantee that God did not leave his people after he had sent his Son, after the Resurrection of his Son. Eucharist is the source of the power of love that is always going to be a challenge in the lives of every one of us. This challenge will, never be fully met, but it will be a means by which we can let Christ make up the difference in our lives, in our love, in the love we give to other people.

Love is Eucharist

Eucharist is the perfect combination of all the pain and suffering of our human race in which Christ is dying again and again. We live in a world where there are millions who have been uprooted, are without a home, or even a space to call their own. There are those who experience hunger every day, and watch others die from that hunger. They demand that we become involved in their lives. We stop being comfortable. Thus our lives are claimed as Eucharist!

Who We Are

All of us have to be lifted out of ourselves so it may be possible for us, in Christ, to discover our real selves. Each of us is called to be a love, and discover a love, that would make Romeo and Juliet seem pikers in the gift they offered to each other. Living the Eucharist of Christ, accepting the challenge to give our lives for the sake of others, and saying each time we come to the celebration, "This is my body," opens each of us to the possibility of that special love.

‘Maxing’ Eucharist

It is not possible for Eucharist to be Eucharist if we wait for someone else to do the work. Each of us is called to be Eucharist to each other in, order for the Eucharist offered on the altar to become truly Christ. All of us are called to give something more than our leftovers - leftovers of time, of resources, of talents. We are called to give our life's blood to each other, to the community, to the Church. We give our all, so that in our celebration, Christ may be alive in us. It is not enough any longer to be talking about the minimal. So many people today ask whether the Church still teaches that you have to go to Mass on Sunday. It is time we wake up to the fact that what the Church is trying to say is that it is not enough just to go to Mass on Sunday. We need more men and women who are willing to go to Mass every day, who are willing to make of their lives a daily Eucharist.

Pearl of Great Price

There are things we would do every day if we could, because we like them and enjoy doing them. If we had a chance to buy the Pearl of Great Price, we know we would offer a great deal for it. Eucharist is the pearl of great price, the greatest God deal of them all. Eucharist is an ignored gift, too often taken for granted. The frequency with which it is received hardly speaks its importance to Christians. The reverence with which one receives Eucharist is hardly ever all it could be. We would never treat a stranger the way we treat our Lord. How much are we really willing to give up of our time, and leisure, and sleep for the chance to celebrate or partake of Eucharist? Have we made of the celebration of Eucharist the centerpiece of a life given to Christ? Do we really claim Eucharist as the pearl of great price in our lives?

Giving Self Away

Fasting and acts of sacrifice can make Eucharist possible. This is not restricted to the seasons of Lent and Advent. To go without eating more than we need may be the beginning of Eucharist; to go without sleeping more than is necessary may be the beginning of Eucharist; to go without buying everything we want may be the beginning of Eucharist. We begin to be something of the Christ who emptied himself of all that belonged to him as Son of God so that he could take on himself our sinfulness. Christ's love can only have the fullness of its reality, of what it is intended to be in us, when we are willing to give all we are to the ones we love. We have to be willing to respond positively to the challenge to be Eucharist.

Demanding Love

We grant you the Church today is not exactly what it was thirty years ago. We are proud and glad it is not. Eucharist demands of us more of a gift than ever before. All of us, religious and lay, are together on a journey. The fullness of our commitment challenges us to live, and live up to, Eucharist. If we do, what we face in each other is Christ, and what others will see in us, is Christ.

Never Taken for Granted

We take the celebration of Eucharist for granted. Many young people would rather be elsewhere than at a Eucharistic celebration. Even Religious, whose lives are meant to be manifestations of their deep love for the Lord, devise alternate celebrations to replace the gift Christ would make of himself in the Eucharist; they do not like a tradition, which puts a premium on a male priesthood. Personal passion and anger replaces Christ's passion and death celebrated in the Eucharistic liturgy. Christ would not force his gift on us, and yet we would force a gift to be given, as we would have it given. Somehow, if we are to be faithful to our traditions, we have to claim Eucharist as the mystery of union. Christ really present in our world today demands the presence of Eucharist. Eucharist today needs the union Eucharist is meant to be. The union with the will of the Father proclaimed by Christ's death on the cross, needs our dying to what is not Christ in us so Eucharist may bring the union of minds and hearts. Living the public life of Christ in our own day and age will allow us to know him in each other by the breaking of the bread.

Freshness of Eucharist

Eucharist calls us to be a forgiving people, We forgive by forgetting. We need to find in the richness of Eucharist a reason to be grateful about each other. We need to enjoy, in the excitement of Eucharist, a fresh start for each other and ourselves. The fresh start of Eucharist is far beyond the extraordinary of a life being saved; a once in a lifetime event is made part of the bread of every day living. We have never been perfect in our relationships with each other. Love calls for the perfect gift and when we give less than ourselves, we are not giving Eucharist.

God’s People

Eucharist makes us a God people. Our being alive in Christ is the Sacrament of the Present Moment. Eucharist can make any moment special, and says that it is not what we are doing, but with how much love we are doing it that is important.

Eucharist of the Present Moment

The love with which we live makes our celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice all the more real. The Pharisee had mastered what law was all about. The Christian needs to master what the love of Christ is all about. The beauty of the Mystical Body of Christ is the goodness of Christian lives. Christianity, to be real, needs to claim from our hearts the integration of what we say with what we do. Eucharist is the capturing of the love of God in an action using the staff of life, bread, as the symbol of food, and wine as the symbol of drink, to show us the fullness of God's being involved in our lives. The fullness of our response to life is possible if we would make of every moment of our lives something special in the power of a life lived as Eucharist.

The Perfect Answer

Eucharist makes it possible for us to take the Cross of Christ on our shoulders, to express his heart, and to lay our claim to his Resurrection. The Resurrection is God's statement that Eucharist is life, that dying for the sake of one another is a gift of life that will make us whole and one again. Now there is an answer to the question: "What shall I return to the Lord for all he has given me?" Eucharist is the perfect answer. We need to say to each other: I will give you Eucharist. I will give you Christ. The Christ who is my body, my blood, is now also my life, your life, and we are one. The gift that is given and the gift received make it possible for the Word who is Love, to be made flesh, yours and mine. My 'yes' to your gift and your `yes' to my gift become the heartbeat of the New Creation.

Receiving is Giving

Eucharist is re-creation, a reaching out to all with the pains of our sufferings, and the joys of our happiness which, in the giving, have now become another Eucharist, another Hymn of Thanksgiving. As our bodies and our life's blood give new life to our world, our yes to the challenge of Christ's Eucharist becomes our commitment to his way, his truth, and his life. Our very lives become Christ's Eucharist to the world. The gift given is truly passed on. In the very giving, the meaning of Christ's Eucharist is fulfilled with our yes, which has become his gift to the needs of others. We show our thanks for his gift by giving our gift. The love that we pass on becomes the secret of holding on to his love. The only way to hold on to his love is to share it in Eucharist. Eucharist is Eucharist.

We pray to the Lord:

Lord of giving, you have opened our hearts by the totalness of the gift you have made of yourself. Allow us to begin the gesture of a return for all that you have done for us. Allow us to be great givers and total responders for all we have received through your Word. Allow the mystery of how you are in our lives to make of us true Eucharist to all that need the gift we have to offer. Allow us to never count the cost of giving, in the hope we have of giving your gift. Let us be willing to take the challenge involved in giving. Make us worthy to be called Christians in the totalness of our giving.

Lord of commitment, you have called forth from our hearts an equal need to make the love we would offer last forever. Help us to take away time limits in what we give. Allow us to eternalize the gift of any moment of our lives. You are always faithful to your promise, call forth from our hearts a fidelity that will know no end. Allow us to be Christ-like in the fullness of the following of you so that we will never know a limit of time or place for the Eucharist we would make of our lives. Permit the exchange of our hearts so we may know the unity of the entire human race in Christ's heart, now ours.

Giver of the gratitude that is Eucharist allows us to be Eucharist. Makes it possible for us to be truly grateful in all we do and say. Make us resound with a joy capable of claiming the gratitude of our friends for you. Gift us with the life of your Son so that our gratitude may reach you, giver of all we are. Let us be grateful servants in the truth of the Eucharist our lives can be for each other. Let us make of our lives a hymn of thanksgiving. Let our Eucharist be for all commitment and challenge.

Help us to answer the question of whether we would be willing to be who Christ would have been if he were lucky enough to be us by the Eucharist we would make of our lives for one another.