Homily for the thirtieth Sunday of the year - Year A - Mt. 22:34-40
Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen
" When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they came together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, to test him. «Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?» And he said to him, «"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind." (Deut. 6:5) This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Lev. 19:18) On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.» "
" Jesus said to him, «"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind." (Deut. 6:5) This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Lev. 19:18) On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.» "
Today, we celebrate the World Day for Missions, but we also bring this Eucharistic year to a close with the celebration of the last day of the Synod of Bishops, in Rome. Missions and the Eucharist, two themes that are united in the very subject discussed by the Bishops: "The Eucharist, source and summit of the life and mission of the Church." But, above all, they are themes that illustrate very well today's gospel, dedicated by Jesus to LOVE!
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind." (Deut. 6:5) "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Lev. 19:18) These two commandments, mentioned by Jesus, were condensed by Him in the form of another commandment: "Do this in memory of me" (1 Cor. 11:25), which was given by Jesus to his Apostles during the Last Supper. Of course, this commandment, by its very nature, is addressed to priests only. But how could the priesthood of the priests be fruitful if the faithful did not exercise their own priesthood, that of their baptism and of their confirmation in Christ?
It is not my intention here to offer you a lecture or a course on the Eucharist, but allow me to read you a few suitable texts upon which you can reflect. The first is taken from the Council of Vatican II, the Constitution on the Church, "Lumen Gentium", no. 34: "The supreme and eternal Priest, Christ Jesus, since he wills to continue his witness and service also through the laity, vivifies them in this Spirit and increasingly urges them on to every good and perfect work. For besides intimately linking them to His life and His mission, He also gives them a sharing in His priestly function of offering spiritual worship for the glory of God and the salvation of men. For this reason the laity, dedicated to Christ and anointed by the Holy Spirit, are marvelously called and wonderfully prepared so that ever more abundant fruits of the Spirit may be produced in them. For all their works, prayers and apostolic endeavors, their ordinary married and family life, their daily occupations, their physical and mental relaxation, if carried out in the Spirit, and even the hardships of life, if patiently borne - all these become "spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ". Together with the offering of the Lord's body, they are most fittingly offered in the celebration of the Eucharist. Thus, as those everywhere who adore in holy activity, the laity consecrate the world itself to God."
To partake of the offering of Christ, to unite oneself to his Sacrifice, to believe in his Love: that is the Eucharist! Let us read what I wrote, ten years ago, in my first book on the Eucharist (at the beginning, "By Way of Preface"): "«The Eucharist: the Church in the Heart of Christ», that is the title of this book. Certainly, all of Christ is present in the Eucharist, his heart as well as all of his body, all his soul, and all the Divinity of the Word of Life that he is in person. But the Heart of Christ truly seems to be the explanatory sign of all the Eucharist: it is the human symbol of all of God's Love for his Church, which he has redeemed at the cost of his Blood shed on the Cross of Calvary. And love does not have a reason; or if it does, it is love itself that is its own reason. Love can only be explained by love, which is the fullness of its reason. There is therefore no reason that more fully or more completely explains the Eucharist than the very Love of God, symbolized by the Heart of Christ.
"«The Church in the Heart of Christ», it is an action of the Church who goes to Christ and unites herself to him within the most intimate part of his Being, within his very Life, and within his Love. It is therefore the action of the Church who, in the Eucharistic communion in which she is but one with Christ, unites herself to the love of God in order to become, herself, the Love of the men who are her brothers in the world, and thus to become her own Love, to participate in her own sanctification, in her own personal growth in charity as the Body of Christ. And with the passage of time, from Eucharist to Eucharist, from communion to communion, the Church grows and is built up by going to Christ and uniting herself to him, with the very Love of God that she had received on the day of Pentecost and that she continues to receive each time that this great Mystery of Christ and the Church is perpetuated and renewed."
I will conclude with a few notes, written in 1988, at the beginning of my research on the Eucharist, notes that I later inserted into another book, entitled: «A Stone in the Church of God: Cephas», no. 81. It is a commentary, under the form of a paraphrase of the words of the Lord: "Do this in memory of me." (1 Cor. 11:25) Let us read: "Let us imagine that, paraphrasing these words, Christ would say to us: «Consecrate this bread and this wine as you have seen me do: I will change this bread into my Body, and this wine into my Blood. Thus, you will proclaim my painful death on the Cross and you will remember what I did for you, and to what extent I loved you during my mortal life: love me and offer yourselves with me. Remember also that I am risen from the dead and that I am in Heaven, seated at my Father's right hand. There, in heavenly glory, my glorious wounds shine with a bright clarity which brings eternal happiness to the angels and to the elect. There, my sacrifice appears glorious and from my Heart overflows an infinite wealth of graces to satisfy the elect of Heaven, relieve the souls of Purgatory, and flood the earth in order to purify it further of its stains and to lift it to the firmament. Remember also that I am your food and your life, and that I desire to live in you in order that you might also live in me, both here below and in Heaven for eternity, participating in the wedding feast of the Lamb. Remember also that I await you up there; that I come down upon the altar, veiled under the appearances of bread and wine, in order to find you and to take you with me to the abode of the blessed. Also, remember that I must return soon, no longer hidden, but in the light of Day, in glory, to judge the living and the dead. Remember... Remember...»"
May the Most Blessed Virgin Mary help us to live in Love!