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  • Writer's pictureThe Hermit of Antipolo

The Eucharist (A Perspective on Covid-19 Part 22)

Today’s readings:

Acts 2:14-28

Psalm 16:1-11

1 Peter 1:17-21

Luke 24:13-35

“Keep me safe, O God;

in you I take refuge.”


For us Catholics, the greatest loss due to COVID-19 is the Eucharist. It is not the loss of life, as death is only the gateway to eternal life. It is not the loss of wealth, well-paying jobs, possessions, position, and the pleasures of the world, as these after all are transitory, and have even led us away from God. But the Eucharist is what gives us life, our being in Christ and he in us, and ultimately eternal life. Indeed, at the end of the day, only God matters. “I say to the Lord, you are my Lord, you are my only good.” (Ps 16:2).

What is the Eucharist about?

First, it is a commemoration of that greatest and central movement of God in history, the suffering, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus, which won for us our salvation. With every Eucharistic celebration, we must be reminded, just as Peter preached on the day of Pentecost: “This man, delivered up by the set plan and foreknowledge of God, you killed, using lawless men to crucify him. But God raised him up, releasing him from the throes of death” (Acts 2:23-24a). After almost two millennia, many Christians have forgotten, as they have been swallowed up by the world, precisely the reason why the Father had to send His own Son to redeem the world. We need to be constantly reminded, at least every week.

Second, Jesus is continually made known to us in, through and by the Eucharist. While Jesus walks with us and is present in our midst, just as he walked alongside the two disciples on the way to Emmaus, many Catholics today, like them, do not recognize him. “Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.” (Lk 24:15-16). How can we really know and recognize Jesus? Just as with the two disciples, “he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.” (Lk 24:35b). What had happened? “And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him” (Lk 24:30-31a). After that Eucharistic celebration with the two disciples, “he vanished from their sight.” (Lk 24:31b). We no longer see Jesus today with our eyes, but we can see him in the Eucharist, and it is the Eucharist that enables us to see.

Third, in the Eucharist we receive from Jesus the same but most basic instructions essential to our formation in the Christian life. As we have already put our faith in Jesus but walk the long path to holiness, we need to be continually reminded of the basics. In the Eucharist, Jesus is our teacher. “I bless the Lord who counsels me” (Ps 16:7a). What are these basics?

* We need to recognize and confess our sins of commission and omission. We pray the Confiteor.

* We ask for God’s mercy.

* We listen to the word of God and to the homily. Jesus speaks to us as he spoke to the disciples on the road to Emmaus through the words of the scriptures, and the priest explains God’s word to us. “Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures.” (Lk 24:27).

* We profess our faith. We continually go back to the basics of what we believe in.

* We pray the Lord’s Prayer, the only prayer taught by Jesus himself. Imbedded in that prayer is forgiving others as God has forgiven us.

* We extend to each other the greeting of peace. When Jesus appeared to the apostles, his first words to them was, “Peace be with you.” We are reminded to bring the peace of Christ to one another and to the world, to be peacemakers.

* We receive Jesus in the bread and wine.

* As the Mass ends, the priest sends us forth with the word “go,” which reminds us of Jesus’ commission to go and proclaim the gospel to all and make disciples of the nations.

Fourth, the Eucharist, if we truly live out all the above, will secure our eternal destiny. “Lord, my allotted portion and my cup, you have made my destiny secure.” (Ps 16:5). Jesus, just as he broke bread at the last supper and gave the pieces to his disciples, gives us our allotted portion of the Eucharistic bread to eat and the cup of his blood to drink. We will continue to sin and fail the Lord, but if we keep going back to Him in the Eucharist, with appropriate repentance and lessons learned, He will be part of our life forever.

Today, with COVID-19, we are sad and even depressed. When Jesus asked the two disciples what they were discussing, “they stopped, looking downcast.” (Lk 24:17). People deplore what they have lost, and the world has lost a lot. For the two disciples, their greatest hope, that of the Messiah, was gone. For us Catholics, what greater loss can there be than our relationship with the Savior and our assurance of eternal life? And what greater immediate loss can there be than the loss of the Eucharist?

And so we look beyond COVID-19. When this pandemic is over, do we go back to normal, that is, to what the world offers? But we must realize our “futile conduct …. with perishable things like silver or gold” (1 Pt 1:18b). You must realize that you have already been ransomed from this (1 Pt 1:18a), and as you continue with your earthly pilgrimage, “conduct yourselves with reverence during this time of your sojourning.” (1 Pt 1:17b). This is especially true for Christians, who must realize that they “invoke as Father him who judges impartially according to each one’s works” (1 Pt 1:17a). And what can see us through our futile conduct? It is “with the precious blood of Christ as of a spotless unblemished lamb.” (1 Pt 1:19).

It is the precious blood of Jesus shed for us on the cross that saved us. It is the precious blood of Jesus we partake of in the Eucharist that will continue to save us. We have already been shown the way. “You have made known to me the paths of life” (Acts 2:28a). And we must, like David, know this of Jesus: “you will not abandon my soul to the netherworld, nor will you suffer your holy one to see corruption” (Acts 2:27). Jesus is the path to life and to great joy. “You will fill me with joy at your presence.” (Acts 2:28b).

One more thing. We have seen that the Eucharist reminds us of Jesus’ suffering and death. The Jews were looking for a Savior king and not a suffering servant. But Jesus is both. And his suffering was the necessary prelude to his glorification as King. “Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” (Lk 24:26).

Now we are suffering through COVID-19. But there is resurrection after death, redemption from evil, glory after suffering. We just need to cling to Jesus who is Life itself. “You will show me the path to life, abounding joy in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever.” (Ps 16:11). The Eucharistic host is given to us with the right hand. It is our lifeline and our lifeblood.

If God is able to raise Jesus from the dead, then He certainly can raise us up from COVID-19. With our faith in God, there is always hope. You “through him believe in God who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.” (1 Pt 1:21).

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