Tag Archives: Eucharist

The Eucharist nourishes, transforms, and impels us

I will probably preach two or three times this weekend – in Spanish. But I wanted to share what has inspired me this week as I prepare for preaching.

The two lectionary texts that most inform my preaching are Paul’s account of the institution of the Eucharist in 2 Corinthians 11: 23-26 and Luke account of the feeding of the multitudes (Luke 9: 11-17)

I will obviously preach something a bit different – depending on the congregation and what is happening here in Honduras this weekend, but I think my English-speaking friends might find something helpful in these initial thoughts.

I had a little time this week and watched an interview by Salt and Light TV of my friend Jim Forest. At one point, Fr. Rosica asks Jim what has sustained him. Jim didn’t even let Fr. Rosica finish the question but blurted out, “The Eucharist.”

Does the Eucharist sustain us? Is it what we need to go on and live?

Yes, for it is an intimate way in which we encounter our God. It is the food that sustains us – for it is the God who gave himself, who emptied himself to become human, who handed himself over, even to death, out of love. He is the bread that is handed over, given for us. The Eucharist is the Blood of the one who poured himself out for us – to the point of shedding, of pouring out his blood.

Do we long for this Bread of Life and Cup of Salvation that sustain us?

I recall a photo I took in 2008 at a Mass in a village. The priest is offering the Body of Christ to a man with his hands outreached. You cannot see the priest’s face – only the Body of Christ in his hands. This picture speaks to me of a longing for the Bread that sustains us.


When we really long for this Bread, we will be transformed by the Body and Blood of Christ. No longer alone, separated with others, when we receive the Eucharist Christ wishes to transform us into Himself, so that we can pour ourselves out like Him.

There are two actions of the deacon during the Eucharist which often move me profoundly.

During the Preparation of the Gifts, the deacon pours the wine into the chalice and then a few drops of water. The prayer, which I always pray in English, is a call to let God make us like himself:

By the mystery of this water and wine, may we come to share the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share our humanity.

God wishes to transform us into His very being, his divinity. This is what is often called theosis, divinization – found clearly in Eastern Christian theology, but also found in Saint Thomas Aquinas.

The Eucharist can transform us.

But how are we transformed?

I am also often moved when I , as a deacon, I raise the chalice with the Blood of Christ at the end of the Eucharistic prayer. How often I recall how this is the Blood poured out, shed, for us; am I willing to pour out my life, to shed my blood in the footsteps of Jesus?


This transformation is not just something “spiritual.” I believe it is a transformation of our whole way of being. Am I willing to let myself be poured out?

For me, the Gospel of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes reveals how we are called to be transformed.

The disciples see the hungry crowd, but they tell Jesus to send them away. They looked for an easy way out, the ultimate call for “each man for himself.” Not only do they not want to take responsibility; they want Jesus to send them away, so he gets the blame.

But Jesus responds, calling for a real transformation, “You, yourselves, give them something to eat.” Don’t look to me for an easy way out; do not ignore the needs and look away. You have been transformed by my love, now do something.

And so, transformed, we are called to share. We are pushed by God to share.

This is the message I hope to share this weekend:

The Eucharist sustains us, transforms us, and impels us to share.

Among the poor – in the Eucharist

By the prayers and example of Saint Katherine Drexel,
enable us to work for justice
among the poor and the oppressed,
 and keep us united in love
in the Eucharistic community of your Church…

 Today is the feast of Saint Katherine Drexel, daughter of a rich Philadelphia banker. But, with his example of daily prayer and the example of her step-mother who served the poor three times a week in her home, she developed a faith that strove for justice.


Alarmed at the poverty and oppression among Native Americans and African Americans, she asked the pope to send missionaries. His response was to the point, “Why not become a missionary yourself?” She did and founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament.

This morning, the prayer for her feast day noted above, struck me.

We ask to be enabled to work for justice among the poor and the oppressed – not for them, but among them. This is a struggle with them, taking part with them – not as leaders, but accompanying them.

It is also a prayer to keep united in love, in the Eucharist. Mother Katherine Drexel had a deep devotion to the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the presence of Christ uniting us in love with all people.

Justice and the Eucharist – two dimensions of the holiness of Saint Katherine.

Justice among the poor and Eucharist in union with the whole Body of Christ – these are for me, especially as a deacon, the central dimensions of my life.

The image is taken from an article in Franciscan Media, found here.

The liberating power of washing feet and sharing the Body

Notes for a Holy Thursday homily, in Honduras, translated and edited from Spanish

Exodus 12: 1-8, 11-14
1 Corinthians 11: 23-26
John 12: 1-15

Today, in the Celebration of the Lord’s Supper, only the second reading speaks of the Eucharist. We begin with the retelling of the Paschal Meal.

Jews celebrate, even today, the Passover, the Exodus from the slavery of Egypt, with a sacramental meal. It is not a drama – for them, the Meal is a way of living again the liberation from the Egypt. They recall the mercy of God who heard the cries of the people and intervened to rescue them. The Passover Meal is a way to celebrate the liberating presence of God.

The Last Supper of Lord Jesus was probably a Passover Meal. With his disciples, Jesus celebrated the liberation of the people of Israel from Egypt in the midst of the occupation of Israel by the troops of the Roman Empire. The Passover was a very tense time in the days of Jesus. Recalling their liberation from the Pharaoh, many Jews of his time awaited their liberation from the foreign Roman troops. Some wished to throw them out violently.

Jesus came to liberate his People – but not by killing others but by handing over his life for all. In the Last Supper he gave his disciples his body and blood, under the forms of bread and wine, to show his commitment, his handing over of his life even to death, a death that he would suffer in less than twenty hours. The liberation from slavery, on God’s part, is an act of handing oneself over on behalf of others.

DSC01489But, after the Supper, Jesus gave us an example of his style of liberation. He washes the feet of his disciples.

This too was not theater. It was an act of service, of making himself nothing, of putting himself in the midst of the servants and slaves. In the days of Jesus, only the slaves would wash others’ feet – and those feet were assuredly dirty, from walking on dirt roads and in streets full of dung and refuse.

When we lower ourselves before another person, kneeling at their feet, we recognize that we are not those who are the big guys, the powerful, those who matter. We are the lesser ones, the lesser brothers (and sisters) as Saint Francis of Assisi called his friars. We put the needs of others before our own. We recognize that God wishes a community where there is the connection of love, of tenderness, of mutual support.

Why. Because we have a God who loves us, who has lowered himself, and has handed himself over, even to death, for us.

And doing the same as He does, we can experience true liberation.