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  • Writer's pictureDr. Anthony Lilles

The Eucharist and the Church

The Mystery of the Eucharist, the great thanksgiving sacrifice of Christ that continues in the Church, reconstitutes the whole cosmos and every heart that welcomes it. In this ecclesial action, the saving action of the Word made flesh is renewed and extended in space and time. An interplay of heaven and earth unfolds in this worship so beautiful and breathtaking as to elude the power of human reason to grasp.

When the Word made flesh blesses and gives to those with whom He has greatly desired to share this sacrificial meal, a kiss is exchanged between the Creator and creation, and the Image of the Invisible God unveils to mere mortals what angels fear to look upon.What is above and what is below embrace. In this dance between the Bridegroom and His Bride, the Church, it is difficult to discern where divine action begins and human action ends.

In this gathering of the meek and lowly, an unvanquished greatness lifts their hearts. Terror and joy, sorrow and hope explode all at once by the Church's humble act of faith. Sins are cleansed. The ego quelled. The heaviness of any burden born away by Love's wings. In this Eucharistic mystery. the Bride is again made holy and immaculate because the Bridegroom did not hesitate to lay down His life.

Deep waters cannot quench such love. A mystery stronger than death unfolds. In the valley of the shadow of death, the Eucharistic Lord has prepared a banquet. His body, real food and his blood, true drink. In the face of mortal enemies, this Good Shepherd gives to drink with overflowing abundance. Simply to gaze on this mystery, to ponder the Eucharistic face of Christ, is to take hold of the very joy of our desiring.

Out of the depths, He cries with us and the Father hears His cry. On the battlefield of life, the Captain and Perfecter of our Faith opens the door to our true home. The One true Mediator transforms our frail offerings and makes them worthy. His Risen presence gives over his Body ready to suffer as food for us in our sufferings, who make up in our bodies what is lacking in his sufferings for the sake of the Church. The High Priest opens access to heaven, here and now, so that we might know the glory that the Father has given to Him out of pure love.

And the Father receives all this from His Son and rejoices. At last we have tasted that love that the Father has desired us to know from before the foundation of the world. We have finally picked ourselves up from the mud of the pigsty and turned back home. He predestined us for all such blessings in His Son, and so He spoke His Word into our most painful miseries and waited until at last we might hear. Whoever sees the Son sees the Father. The Messiah's longing to celebrate this Sacred Banquet with His friends reveals the longing of the Father that we might know His delight. In the echoes of Christ's agonized wordless cry, the eloquence of the Father's suffering love, his mercy, is entrusted to us once and for all.

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