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  • Writer's pictureThe Hermit of Antipolo

Crucial Importance of the Eucharist (A Perspective on Covid-19 Part 34)

Today’s readings:

Deuteronomy 8:2-16

Psalm 147:12-20

1 Corinthians 10:16-17

John 6:51-58

Feast of Corpus Christi

Why has the world been afflicted with COVID-19? It is God’s chastisement. But it is a manifestation of God’s love and mercy. It is discipline for beloved children. It is tough love. “So you must know in your heart that, even as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord, your God, disciplines you.” (Dt 8:5). God’s intent is to make us turn from our evil ways and turn back to Him.

The world has forgotten that all blessings come from God. These blessings are part of God’s covenant with His people. In turn, we are to obey Him, so as to remain in His embrace. “Be careful not to forget the Lord, your God, by failing to keep his commandments and ordinances and statutes” (Dt 8:11). But the world, in looking to man’s accomplishments, did forget and turn away from God. God had warned Israel that “you then become haughty of heart and forget the Lord, your God” (Dt 8:14a).

Man has become proud, thinking that their accomplishments are due to themselves and not to God. Israel had been warned. “Otherwise, you might say in your heart, ‘It is my own power and the strength of my own hand that has got me this wealth.’” (Dt 8:17). We today must also realize this truth. And so God afflicted us, as He did Israel, “so as to test you by affliction, to know what was in your heart: to keep his commandments, or not.” (Dt 8:2b). As COVID-19 passes, let us never forget the lesson: “Remember then the Lord, your God, for he is the one who gives you the power to get wealth” (Dt 8:18a).

Now one great way to remember what God has done for us is to celebrate the Eucharist. Jesus did tell his disciples to do what is the Mass today in memory of him. Israel was fed with manna in the desert. Today Jesus feeds us with his very own body and blood. “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” (1 Cor 10:16). Why is the Eucharist of crucial importance?

First, the Eucharist is the way to unity among God’s people. “Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.” (1 Cor 10:17). Unfortunately, today there is much division, in the world and even in our Church. People cannot truly be united except by and through the Eucharist.

* The United Nations is unable to unite nations. In fact, as the UN is now promoting abortion and LGBT, it is dividing people further.

* Interreligious dialogue cannot unite religions, because there is no recognition of the one true religion or faith, and that is Christianity.

* Ecumenism cannot unite Christians, since many Protestants, evangelicals and sects do not accept the Real Presence, the very source of unity.

Second, the Eucharist is of crucial importance because it assures entry into eternal life and heaven. Faith of course can get us into heaven. Keeping God’s commandments can get us into heaven. But beyond faith and the commandments, there is the Eucharist, by which Jesus assures us: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever” (Jn 6:51a). The Jews could not accept it (Jn 6:52). Other Christian denominations do not accept it. Many Catholics today neglect it.

All this is unfortunate and tragic. Here is the assurance of eternal life. “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.” (Jn 6:54). But many, and certainly the world that is in darkness of sin, still do not appreciate what God gives us. With COVID-19, people feared death. But it is not physical death that is to be feared, but spiritual death, with the result of going into the eternal fires of hell. If Christ is in us when we die, both figuratively and literally (by way of the Eucharist), Jesus himself assures us: “whoever eats this bread will live forever.” (Jn 6:58c).

We are to build our house on the Rock that is Christ. We are to listen to and act on the words of Christ. Do we truly do so? Do we obey all God’s commands? There will be times, such as with COVID-19, when God will “test you by affliction, to know what was in your heart: to keep his commandments, or not.” (Dt 8:2b). So the floods will come and the winds blow to buffet our house. This can come from the evil one or from God, as “he raises his winds and the waters flow.” (Ps 147:18b). How will our house stand? “Therefore, keep the commandments of the Lord, your God, by walking in his ways and fearing him.” (Dt 8:6).

With Israel, God “let (them) be afflicted with hunger, and then fed (them) with manna” (Dt 8:3a). With us, there will be many afflictions, including COVID-19, but God feeds us with his very own body. The Eucharist is a commemoration, is a remembrance of Jesus’ great sacrifice. “Be careful not to forget the Lord, your God” (Dt 8:11a). As we do so, then God “might afflict you and test you, but also make you prosperous in the end.” (Dt 8:16b). And bring you to heaven.

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