Talk story: In the Eucharist, fragility is strength

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The Eucharist rests on a paten at the altar of St. Peter’s Cathedral in Wilmington, Del., May 27, 2021. On June 19, 2022, the feast of Corpus Christi, archdioceses and dioceses across the United States held Eucharistic processions to kick off the three-year National Eucharistic Revival of the American Bishops. (SNC Photo/Chaz Muth)

SOCIAL MINISTRY OFFICE

“The Eucharist is not just a word, it is an act, a verb. He brings us together as an ohana…to give thanks as sons and daughters of God our Creator. He nurtures us as ohana through a sacred meal as sisters and brothers in Christ, who has left us with his presence in bread and wine. He sends us as ohana, as a community in Christ, to be the broken bread and the poured wine, with the most vulnerable, to be the best in ourselves and bring out the best in others. (“The Eucharist-One ʻOhana” video from the Diocese of Honolulu)

For many, the Labor Day long weekend was the last summer opportunity for family and friends to celebrate like ohana. It was also, for some, the first opportunity to come together and give thanks for surviving a pandemic, which revealed both the vulnerability and resilience of the human family. But every weekend, even every day, the sacrament of the Eucharist offers an opportunity to come together and give thanks for God’s blessing and gift in transforming human vulnerability into resilience as one ohana.

As part of the U.S. Bishops’ Pastoral Plan for 2021-2024, all dioceses across the country have been invited to participate in the National Eucharistic Revival. Pope Francis’ homilies on the Eucharist are a valuable resource for this initiative. In his 2021 homily on the Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, our Holy Father focused on Matthew’s Gospel account of the Last Supper. “At the climax of his life, Jesus parted at the Passover meal with the disciples. Jesus thus shows us that the purpose of life is to give oneself, that the greatest thing is to serve.

Pope Francis said the Eucharist links the frailties of human vulnerability to the example and call of Christ to serve all in need. “Jesus becomes frail like bread that is broken and crumbled. But its strength lies precisely there, in its fragility. In the Eucharist, fragility is strength: the strength of love that makes itself small to be welcomed and not feared; the strength of broken and shared love to nurture and give life; the force of love that separates to unite us all in unity. Each time we receive the Bread of Life, Jesus comes to give new meaning to our weaknesses, he heals us of these weaknesses that we cannot heal by ourselves, with love. This is the logic of the Eucharist: we receive Jesus who loves us and heals our weaknesses in order to love others and help them in their weaknesses.

This year, in his message for World Day for Migrants and Refugees in September, Pope Francis also stresses that vulnerable people on the margins or periphery are important in revitalizing our Eucharistic celebrations. “The arrival of Catholic migrants and refugees can energize the ecclesial life of the communities that welcome them. Often they bring an enthusiasm that can revitalize our communities and enliven our celebrations.

Another vital resource for Eucharistic Renewal is the Diocese of Honolulu’s video “The Eucharist-One ‘Ohana,” in which Bishop Larry Silva reminds us that “Jesus left his presence for us in the form of bread and wine, that we can always be nourished. He gives us our daily bread so that we too may be broken and divided, and like wine poured out in the service and love of others. Jesus is so wise that he knows the food of the Eucharist will make us hungrier, hungrier to serve others.

Bishop Silva also underlines the link between the Eucharist and the service to Saint Damien and Saint Marianne of Molokai in Hawaii. “St. Damien was thirsty to be with leprosy patients so that he could serve them in the name of Christ. St. Marianne was hungry for the work of serving those whom others did not want to serve. The bishop ends the video with the reflection: “Being able to share the body and blood of Christ is a gift and a blessing. It also calls us to be the broken body of Christ for the world. Saint John Paul II said: “A true Eucharistic community cannot be closed itself. The Eucharist challenges us to recognize our place within a community and the human family. So let us do these things in memory of Jesus, let us be the bread broken and the wine poured out as Un ‘Ohana, Witness of Jesus by sharing all the wonderful blessings God has given us.

View the locally produced video “The Eucharist-One ‘Ohana” on the diocesan website catholichawaii.org/catholic-essentials/sacrament-videos/eucharist. For the full texts of Pope Francis’ Corpus Christi homilies and his full message for World Migrants and Refugees Day 2022, please visit officeforsocialministry.org.

Mahalo,

Your friends at the Social Ministry Office

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