eucharistWhenever I participate in the Mass, I always wonder when it comes to the part where the priest breaks the bread while the whole congregation sings the “Lamb of God” in response. The gesture of the priest in this part of the Mass speaks a lot to me. It is Jesus Himself, being sacrificed to the Father and being broken for humanity. I always marvel upon the thought of this great mystery that Jesus, the perfect human, offered himself as the only sacrifice acceptable to the Father. It is the “only sacrifice” because Jesus, the unblemished Son of Man, offered Himself to the Father for all. This truth makes me joyful and grateful because Jesus loves everybody and it personally touches me because He offers himself every day in the Mass for my sins. Indeed, there is no greater love than this, to let Himself be broken and sacrificed again and again for all.

The offering of the Body and Blood of Christ for me has two dimensions; personal and communal. It is personal because Jesus Christ offers himself to the Father for me. It speaks first at the personal level where my whole being connects to Jesus taking away all the burden of my sins. I always remember the parable of the lost sheep in the Gospel of Mathew 18:12-13 where the Shepherd seeks one sheep that had gone astray and upon finding it the shepherd rejoices. I always thought I was that sheep that had gone astray and found by Jesus. After finding me, He even surpasses this love by offering Himself to the Father for my sins.  Jesus makes me participate and likewise offers myself along with His body, blood, soul and divinity.

The offering of the Body and Blood of Christ is also communal because of the presence of the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ. St Paul writes to the Colossians, “I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the Church.” It invites not only a personal response but also a communal one because of the reality of the Church which continuously offers Jesus’ body and blood as acceptable sacrifices to the Father.

Thus, in the Mass there are two bodies being offered, the real Body and Blood of Christ and the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church. -manna-from-heavenThe Mystical Body involves communal and personal offering and receiving of the sacred Body and Blood of Christ. Partakers in this celebration become Body and Blood of Jesus Christ also for others. Thus, the one who receives the Eucharist becomes Eucharist. It is not us who consume Jesus but He consumes us and wraps us with His divinity. Our being is likened to a “drop of water disappearing in the vast ocean” and we become what we receive. For this reason we likewise become Eucharist for others to be used and consumed. For me this is a transformative marvel of the Eucharist. One becomes what he/she receives while at the same time retaining one’s own person or being.

Whenever I think of this reality, I always remember St. Francis Caracciolo, the founder of the Clerics Regular Minor (Adorno Fathers) in which Order I belong. He was so in love with the Eucharist and he would spend all nights and days in front of the Blessed Sacrament. After his death, his followers discovered a text written in his heart that says, “Zeal for your house consumes me” (Ps. 69:9). This Psalm expresses what his relationship with the Eucharist was. Certainly, we not only consume the Eucharist but the Eucharist consumes us and makes us the Eucharist to be broken for others.

Living a Eucharistic life can be very well reflected in the most ordinary life. Eucharist makes us simple and humble. It teaches us generosity and forgiveness. It also makes us truly human. But becoming fully human is not easy because it involves openness and generosity to be broken for others. This is the reason why I marvel always when the priest breaks the bread in the Mass, it makes me think of myself also that after receiving Jesus, I myself become that bread to be broken, eaten and consumed by others. Of course, one has to be very careful not to waste or neglect the crumbs when breaking the bread as recounted in the miracle of the multiplication of loaves in John’s Gospel. They are very important as well.

To clarify this, in the beginning of the Eucharistic discourse of Jesus, John’s Gospel 6: 1-15 recounts the miracle of multiplication of loaves and fish. Certainly it is a miracle and they gathered the leftovers after they had their fill so that nothing will be wasted. So also with us who receive the Eucharist, we become Eucharist broken for others. We also gather the crumbs or the leftovers so that they will not go wasted. These crumbs in day to day life are our time, things, other resources, and so much more that are more than enough for our needs. We use these things not for our own but for the spiritual benefit of others. This is the generosity that the Eucharist is teaching us always: we share our Eucharistic selves with others just like the Eucharistic Jesus who is broken and shared for us in the Mass.