02-09-2020Weekly ReflectionRev. Father Rafael Ibarguren, EP
In previous meditations we have addressed the fascinating topic of the fruits of the Eucharist, although not in an exhaustive form because, how can we cover something so unspeakable? However, we can outline some basic concepts that may be helpful for the faithful.
We will only address this vast subject of the Eucharistic mystery in what the fruits of sacramental communion is concern.
To receive Jesus, the Bread of Life, is the immediate object of the institution of the sacrament. "Take and eat", "take and drink", "Do this in memory of me": This is the formal mandate of Christ at the Last Supper, before His passion and death. It is clear that communion implies worship, as both go together.
The teaching of the Church on the fruits of communion has been collected in several classic books of prayers and pious manuals that, contrary to what some think, have not gone out of fashion ... And this simply because the meal (the Redeemer) and the guest (any redeemed human being) are essentially the same in all times and places.
Let us contemplate on ten fruits and benefits of the Holy Eucharist:
"Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I in him" (John, 6, 56). This is the first and best fruit of sacramental communion, to identify fully with our Lord Jesus Christ, to unite intimately with Him; this is the supreme ideal of any Christian.
Being the Eucharist the specific nourishment of our supernatural life, we need to feed ourselves of it in order to persevere and to grow spiritually. Otherwise, without food, we languish and die ...
Communion worthily received keeps us away from sin and gives strength. Christ gave his body and shed his blood precisely for this purpose: "for the forgiveness of sins," as the formula of consecration reads.
The effects of the Eucharist go even further: it deletes venial sins (if it is true about the holy water how much more we can expect from the Body of Christ itself!) It is an antidote to the deadly sin and it prevents us from committing it.
Love, this theological virtue which is infused at baptism, is revitalized and made more fruitful with the Eucharistic food, which is also a medicine. Communion exercises and leads us to the queen of all virtues (charity) and to all the other virtues.
The Eucharist unites us to Christ and also fully brings us into the mystical body of Christ which is the Church. " ...so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, " (John 17: 21-22.). "The Church lives from the Eucharist" is the title of St. John Paul II encyclical.
The Eucharistic bread is broken, given and shared. And with this gesture the beneficiaries are the poor, those in spirit and the needy. Isn't this the meaning of the washing of the feet that preceded the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper? Communion impels us to be helpful to the needy.
That "they may all be one" (John 17: 21) Jesus said. By being one in truth and in fraternal love with the others we obtain the much desired unity. For Christians who are not Catholics (who therefore do not live this unity in love) Jesus' calling still awaits them. We have therefore to offer communions, prayers and our work so that all Christians will be able to celebrate without divisions in the same and only banquet.
But in order to be united we must reconcile first. As good and evil do not mix we must acknowledge what is good and give away what is evil, move into harmony and establish peace. The Eucharist is the sponsor of reconciliation as it cleanses us from sin, it helps us grow in grace and opens us to others.
Finally, the Eucharist is the seed of the eternal and glorious life. In apostolic times St. Ignatius of Antioch said that the Eucharistic bread is "medicine of immortality and antidote for death" This is one of the most consoling teachings of the Gospel: " Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day "(John 6, 54).
In view of these benefits, nothing better than frequent reception of sacramental communion: food, medicine and protective shield; bread from heaven, as the prayer says, has a unique flavor. Meanwhile, do not neglect confession before coming to communion in this Lenten time.