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Living the Eucharist: The Giving of Self

Fr. Ed Nowak, CSP
Fr. Ed Nowak, CSP
June 9, 2023

In our weekly gathering for Eucharist, we are nourished by God’s Word and by Jesus’ own Body and Blood. We then are sent forth to live the faith we just celebrated. There is a Family Circus cartoon that depicts this reality. In the cartoon, little Dolly says to her family as they are coming out of church, “Grandma says this is where our real religion begins – when we come out of church.”

Our gathering together for Eucharist has the power to transform us into living our faith 24/7 in service to God, but we must be open. Transformation happens as we grow in awareness of what we celebrate and participate in. St. Paul reminded the Corinthians that the bread that is broken is the Body of Christ; the cup that is blessed is the Blood of Christ. Each time we celebrate this Eucharist, we are connected to the sacrifice of love that Jesus offered for us. We are united with his suffering, death, and resurrection.

Actions of self-sacrificing love are what Eucharist is about. Anyone who has truly loved another understands Eucharist, because Eucharist is the giving of self to nurture a loved one’s wholeness. Jesus comes to our Eucharistic table, celebration after celebration, to give himself to us, to heal our brokenness and to make us whole.

We come to the table as broken people, a people needing healing and forgiveness. Jesus responds to our brokenness by breaking himself, that we may be whole again. The more profoundly we know our own brokenness, the more deeply Jesus will be able to heal us. This is true for us as individuals and as a church. When we experience or offer unconditional love and forgiveness, we live the Eucharist we celebrate. When we can look at the most broken individuals among us and say, “This is my body, this is my blood,” we begin to realize the profound reality of being united with each other through the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.    Jesus’ ultimate gift of himself in this Eucharist unites us in a unique way with him and with each other.

Our awareness of Jesus’ gift of himself in this Eucharist is diminished if we do not believe that God accepts us and cares for us just as we are with all our imperfections. It can be diminished if we do not accept that God continually offers us forgiveness no matter how many times we need forgiveness. It can be lost if we do not share that same love and forgiveness with each other. When we believe in one another, accept one another, forgive and love one another unconditionally, then the power of this Eucharist to transform us and the world is present to us.

Time and time again we gather at this Eucharistic table in our brokenness. We gather to be nourished and healed by the Body of Christ so that we may more indeed be the Body of Christ and in turn nourish and heal a world so hungry for love, forgiveness, and peace.

As I transition from this Eucharistic community at the Paulist Center to my new ministry as Vocation Director in Washington, DC, I want to thank this community for truly being the Body of Christ for me through your warm welcome and support during my all too brief time here. You will be in my prayers whenever I celebrate with others at our Eucharistic table. I appreciate your prayers and I do hope to see you again from time to time as I trust that my new ministry will periodically bring me back to Boston. It has truly been a blessing to be here with you these past 9 months! 🙂