[COLUMN] The Eucharist: Christ’s ongoing presence in the world

One day while I was celebrating a weekday Mass, I asked myself, “If a time comes when there will only be one or two people attending Mass regularly, should I continue offering it? My answer was an absolute YES! I would keep celebrating Mass daily even if there is only one or no one attending it. That’s how I value the Eucharist.

It’s because the Eucharist is not primarily about our needs as a people but about God, who wants to show his unconditional love to all of us.

The Eucharist is the testament of his eternal love through the memorial of the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus. The Eucharist is about God continually offering himself to us despite our sinfulness, indifference, and apathy. In short, the Eucharist is God’s eternal love for us!

The U.S. Bishops state in their recent document, The Mystery of the Eucharist: “His blood, shed for us, is the eternal sign of that love. As a memorial, the Eucharist is not another sacrifice, but the re-presentation of the sacrifice of Christ by which we are reconciled to the Father.”

Furthermore, the U.S. bishops state:

“The salvation offered in the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Christ is nothing less than the sharing in the very life of God, in the communion of love among the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. There is no greater gift that God could give us. In Christ, we share in the divine nature (2 Pt, 1:4).

The Lord accompanies us in many ways, but none as profound as when we encounter him in the Eucharist. On our journey toward eternal life, Christ nourishes us with his very self.”

These are profound words from our shepherds that echo Jesus’ final address to his disciples, “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Mt 28:20).

With these insights, I find a connection with the Old Testament Reading this Sunday (July 24). In it, we hear Abraham negotiating with God out loud:

“Will you sweep away the innocent with the guilty? Suppose there were fifty innocent people in the city, would you wipe out the place rather than spare it for the sake of the fifty innocent people within it?”

God responded that he would not destroy the city if fifty people could be found. Then Abraham negotiated more. What about if there are only forty, thirty, twenty, or merely ten? In the same way, God replied, “alright, for the sake of those ten, I will not destroy it.”

In light of this Scripture passage, would the Church stop offering the Sacrament of the Eucharist if there would only be a few people attending it? Of course, not! The Eucharist is God’s gift to us through the sacrifice of his Son, Jesus Christ. The Eucharist nourishes our spirits and souls and makes us feel Christ’s most special and ongoing presence until our journey to eternal life!

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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Fr. Rodel “Odey” Balagtas is the pastor of Incarnation Church in Glendale, California.


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