Monday, September 07, 2009

Forty Hours (part II)


Christ the Priest SANCTIFIES us by Divine Grace, via the Sacraments, especially the Blessed Sacrament, which IS His Body & Blood, Soul & Divinity. He also TEACHES us through this august sacrament. We are taught the mystery of Divine Love.

Pope Benedict expounded on this in his first encyclical DEUS CARITAS EST. Scripture tells us that God IS love. Unfortunately, many people are ignorant of what real love is about. The secular world treats love as though a commodity you can buy and sell on eBay or the Internet. The worldly see loves as merely something physical or biological. They reduce love to the sex act. Animals have sex but they do not so so to express love. Their animal instinct moves them to copulate and reproduce and thus continue the species. Human beings, however, are made in the image and likeness of God. Therefore, human sexuality is HOLY and SACRED when done properly. Human sexuality is the sign of the covenant between man and woman to live as husband and wife. Recreational, extra-marital, pre-marital and contaceptive sex (as well as homosexual sex) are all wrong, sinful and immoral because they distort the original design of the Creator. God created human sexuality to express the total commitment of husband and wife to live a permanent, faithful and fruitful union. Selfish love is not love, it is self-gratification. REAL LOVE is better.

Pope Benedict reminded us that real love is BOTH possessive (eros) AND oblative (agape). It is willing to GIVE as well as RECEIVE. Real Love is willing and capable of making SACRIFICE, again and again. It also is patient to endure and it never gives up and never quits.

Possessive love is reflected in the Holy Eucharist in that Jesus fulfills the request made at Emmaus "mane nobiscum Domine" (stay with us Lord). Providentially, this was the last letter Pope John Paul the Great wrote before his death. It was on the Holy Eucharist. Jesus loves us so much, He wants to BE with us and He wants us to BE WITH Him. When a couple is in love, they spend time together. They dislike being apart. They long for the time they can reunite. Likewise, Jesus loves us so much, He says "I am with you always" How is He with us always if He ascended into heaven? He is WITH US in His Real Presence. He is THERE in the Blessed Sacrament. He is THERE in the Tabernacle, 24/7.

When asked 'how are we to pray?', Christ replies, "say, OUR Father, who art in heaven, ..." Note the possessive pronoun OUR. You and I can rightfully say OUR Father since we are adopted children of God by virtue of our baptism. We can and must say that Christ is OUR brother. That is healthy possessive love. But if love only remains possessive, it will deteriorate eventually and become selfish love. Here is where the pornographic distortion of eros occurs and what the world calls 'erotic love' is nothing more than self-satisfaction. It is NOT love since it is not centered on the relationship; rather, it is centered on the ME (the ego).

Yet the Holy Father says that God shows possessive (eros) love in that He wants to have us with him for eternity. "I will be YOUR God and you will be MY people." Jesus said he was building HIS Church and Saint Paul says WE are the Mystical Body of Christ, the living Church on earth. The Holy Eucharist UNITES the believers as ONE.

The other necessary element of love is oblative (sacrificial). God so loved the world that he GAVE us His only begotten Son. The Son so loved us that He gave His very life for us. The lover is willing to surrender, to give, to sacrifice for the other. That is agape love as opposed to eros love which is the having and receiving aspect of love.

The Holy Eucharist is not only the means by which we RECEIVE Jesus, it is also the sacrifice He makes on our behalf. Christ willingly gave up His life in atonement for our sins. He ransomed us from the Devil. He sacrificed His body and blood on the Cross. Even the elements Jesus used at the Last Supper which every priest continues to use today at every Mass: wheat bread and grape wine; these are fruits of SACRIFICE. Grains of wheat must be GROUND and PULVERIZED to become flour before combining with water and baked in the oven to become bread. Likwise, grapes must be CRUSHED and juice feremented before becoming wine. You and I must be willing to be GROUND and to be CRUSHED; to be BROKEN and POURED OUT just as Jesus was.

The Holy Eucharist is above all else a sacrifice (Dominicae Cenae #9) There can be no Sacrament without a Sacrifice. Possessive love NEEDS oblative love to complete and perfect it. It is not a matter of EITHER ... OR but a matter of BOTH ... AND that is, true real love is BOTH possessive and oblative. It gives and receives.

We receive Jesus in Holy Communion but we must also SURRENDER (give) our wills to be replaced by His will. "Take up your cross daily and follow me" is about SACRIFICE. It is sacrificial love, which every parent knows well. When you have children they demand you give up your free time to care for them. But as they grow up, they must learn the value of giving as well as receiving. As they enjoy the fruits of YOUR sacrifice, they need to cultivate a desire to sacrifice FOR others.

Hence, the Holy Eucharist is the plenitude and plethora, the epitome and quintessence of Divine Love, possessive and oblative. When we make a small sacrifice and take time out of our busy schedules to make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, the fruit of our offering will be the quality time we are now able to spend in the Real Presence of our Lord and Savior.

Unless the grain of wheat dies, it cannot bear fruit. We must die to self and sacrifice our will and allow the Will of God to fill the void. In a secular era where pleasure and convenience are almost deities unto themselves, human beings NEED to know how fragile life is and how precious and valuable real sacrifice can be. Nothing of value is free. Salvation and redemption had a high price. The Messiah died FOR us so we could OBTAIN eternal life. We need the Eucharist to sustain our ability to balance possessive and oblative love in our own lives.

1 comment:

Fr Míċeál Beatty said...

Splendid ! Fr Giovanni I've linked to your post.

My Blog List

Blog Archive