The Gift of the Eucharist
We are in the midst of a National Eucharistic Revival, which began on June 19, 2022, the Feast of Corpus Christi, and will culminate with our nation’s first National Eucharistic Congress in nearly 40 years taking place in Indianapolis, Indiana, from July 17 to 21, 2024. All Catholics should look to take part in some way in this beautiful celebration as we join in honoring Christ’s great gift of the Eucharist to the Church, giving thanks for the gentle way it enables us to grow closer to His loving heart.
In his address to young people in Bologna, Italy, in 1997, John Paul II said, “The Eucharist is the secret of my day. It gives strength and meaning to all my activities of service to the Church and to the whole world…Let Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament speak to your hearts. It is He who is the true answer of life that you seek. He stays here with us: He is God with us. Seek Him without tiring, welcome Him without reserve, love Him without interruption: today, tomorrow, forever!”
These words exemplify the fire of love the Eucharist can kindle in our hearts when we open ourselves to its transformative power. We see this fire in all the great saints throughout history, as well as in the many humble and faithful Catholics in the world today, people who treasure every opportunity to draw close to Christ in the Eucharist. It is always amazing to see the solace that reception of the Eucharist can bring to people of faith when they are facing the most trying situations in life. This is truly one of the great proofs of the power of this Sacrament. History is filled with stories of Eucharistic miracles, but we are also called to see the spiritual miracles at work in the Eucharist on a daily basis.
In the Gospel of John, we read about how Christ responded to Thomas’ doubts about the Resurrection by allowing him to see and touch the wounds of the Crucifixion. But then Jesus says to Thomas, “Have you believed because you have seen Me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” We see here that, although Christ does provide amazing proofs of the miraculous in the Gospels and throughout history, He prizes the faith of those who believe without experiencing such occurrences. Perhaps this is why the most important gift He left to the world manifests itself in a way that engages our faith rather than simply revealing its miraculous nature in a visible way at every sacrifice of the Mass.
In establishing the Eucharist, Christ called us to exercise our faith in His power to perform miracles even when we don’t clearly see how this is happening. The Eucharist is the starting point for understanding His hand at work in the world. Christ has made it clear to us that the Eucharistic sacrifice of the Mass entails a miraculous transformation of bread and wine into His body and blood, but believing in this relies on our faith.
So, we are left with the question Christ posed to His disciples after He first presented this profound mystery that would take place in the Eucharist. Some followers recoiled at that point, and Christ turned to the disciples and asked, “Will you also go away?”
To this question, we must always be prepared to join with Simon Peter in answering, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”