by Deacon Bill Scholl
When I heard that the American bishops were launching an initiative to foster “eucharistic wonder” in the church, I was first thrilled, then immediately condemned.
Ever since I was at Thomas Aquinas College, when I had a profound conversion experience, I have marveled at the great gift that Jesus makes of himself in the Eucharist.
After college, this wonder was put to the test when I got a job downtown that allowed me to go to mass during my lunch hour. That didn’t leave me much time to eat and I had to walk.
But as I walked, I said to myself: “If I had just spent my lunch with the mayor, the governor or even the president, how happy I would be with my time spent; and yet, I have just had lunch with someone even more significant: God himself in the presence of the king of the universe.
The life of faith asks us to engage our imagination in that intentional gaze at the strange wonder of such intimate friendship with God which is embodied in communion. How much happier we Catholics would be if we took the time to marvel at the Eucharist.
However, I then recalled something that Pope Benedict XVI taught in the encyclical “Deus Caritas Est” (“God is Love”). He wrote: “A Eucharist that is not transformed into concrete acts of love is intrinsically fragmented.
I feel so special putting God on my tongue, but am I receiving without giving? And during these periods of drought when I feel less surprised, is it because I keep God’s mercy to myself?
“Be merciful as your Father is merciful” (Lk 6:36). Nothing brings us closer to the heart of God the Father than when we follow the example of his Son and practice works of mercy.
The reverse can also be true: when we are stingy with mercy or don’t stop thinking about ourselves for a moment so that we can help others, we distance ourselves from the grace of our baptism.
I know that for me at least it is too easy to get so caught up in the business of life that I leave no room to encounter Christ in others.
So, in this Lent and this year, as we take the time to appreciate the marvelous action of Christ in the Mass, let us resolve that God enter into us so that we can go out as missionaries of mercy.
Currently, our office is discerning with Catholic charities how we can equip Catholics to grow as disciples of Jesus through concrete expressions of his way of mercy.
So as we gaze upon Christ in the real presence of the Eucharist, let us bring that wonder to perfection by sharing mercy through concrete acts of love.