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  • Writer's pictureDr. Anthony Lilles

Eucharistic Coherence and Co-inherence


The Eucharist, the great thanksgiving that Christ instituted the night before He died, imposes on those who share in it a certain cohesion of belief and life. It was not a one time event - but because He is God and Man - it has an eternal quality. When we share in it, we join in the intercession He makes for us before the Throne of the Father even now. It is above us, eternal, heavenly and yet given to us in the nitty-gritty of life, in the fiery furnace, in the Lion's Den. This supreme act of thanksgiving is meant to be the orientation point, the standard, the source and summit in navigating the whole of our existence. Such is the gift of the Most High God to humble humanity.


This great act of worship cannot be rendered if one does not believe and live in accord with it. This is because the praise and blessing Christ offers establishes a new relationship between God and humanity, a new covenant, a certain co-inherence so that my life is implicated in the plight of everyone entrusted to me just as Christ has implicated Himself in my own plight - because I am given to Him by the Father in this very act of worship. Moreover, this act establishes and demands my own integrity - the alignment of my mind, instincts and heart with the will of God.


Such an alignment is not required because the Divine Will is some extrinsic force imposing itself into human affairs. Rather, all that is most personal and intimate about my life comes from Him and goes to Him, and only by my whole manner of living and being in accord to His can I ever realize the truth that He has will into existence. He is counting on us to pursue interior integrity so that He can help us realize the spiritual harmony that we are meant to know.


This implication in one another's plight is an ecclesial relationship. It participates in the Body of Christ, not as a metaphorical analogy, but as a perfected act of creation, a previously unknown alignment of Uncreated and created being, an organic whole of various functions co-inhering in one life, one act of love. In this act of worship, a communion of persons is established in reality, grounded in the truth of existence. This act of worship establishes a people and makes them holy so that through their communion, every people, every person has a reason for hope. In Christ's divine and human blessing, He has brought into being a whole new society by offering a whole new act of worship. Only building culture of life and civilization of love are a coherent response to the atonement this worship offers.


What characterizes this great mystery is spousal in that each is given to God the Father through the Son in the power of the Spirit with a Divine Faithfulness even before the mystery of death. Our participation is Bridal in that we are given and give ourselves over to the Bridegroom who has bestowed on us every good gift and longs that we should be fruitful, that we should bear new life in this tired out and dying world. Indeed, what He engenders in us is newness in the face of all that passes away, the only sure hope against everything that oppresses holy humanity and threatens its dignity.


This act of worship established by Christ as "the breaking of the Bread" was entrusted to humanity at such great price. It is an act that involves sacrifice: the shedding of God's own blood, the breaking of God's own body. Nothing is held back and so those who enter into this offering must respond in kind. Christians who offer such worship too must not hold anything back from God but surrender to Him their whole lives, entrusting Him every joy and sorrow, even plans and dreams. Whatever is offered is never lost but blessed, sanctified and made perfect in a love that will last forever - and in this love, the Lord and Giver of Life restores what we have destroyed.


This Trinitarian worship binds us together in Christ to God. We participate in his very Sonship so that we see the same glory that the Father has given His Son because He has loved Him from before the foundation of the world. Such is this communion that the very inner movements of his Heart are communicated to us in the power of the Holy Spirit and this especially when we assist in offering the Mass together. Yet, what we share at Mass would become a dangerous self-contradiction if we did not share it in the rest of our lives. In every communion that we receive, all that the Holy Spirit communicates in that particular act of worship is completed and nourished in us to strengthen and deepen our love for one another in the day to day, moment to moment challenges of life. When we are caught up into this mystery, when we share in it, we bind ourselves to lay down our lives for one another just as Christ sealed His act of worship by laying down his life for us.


This is why those who participate in the Holy Eucharist of Christ must stand with life. Bound by He who is Life Himself, we must serve life as did He. It is incoherent even to remain a bystander when policies and laws are advocated that intend harm to the unborn, the elderly and the impaired. Holy Communion establishes a spiritual bond with the prisoner, the homeless, and the unwanted children of the world. Indifference is never an option. Instead, our Eucharistic sacrifices should pierce our hearts until we must act - or else how we worship and how we live have not yet matured into the coherence the human vocation requires. Our worship knows a certain co-inherence with strangers and even our enemy in our prayer so that we can even suffer for them, substituting ourselves in prayer for their freedom just as Christ has done for us. The marvels of such mercy have hardly been tasted even after two millennia of offering such a sacrifice. Every political cause and agenda pales before the brightness that Christ would have shine through us that our neighbor and even our enemy might have life.

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