Our parish is going through a Lenten-program called "Living the Eucharist". We've been given booklets for daily reflection as well as participant guides for weekly in-home gatherings. We're currently in week 3 & the group I attend meets tonight.
The topic for this week is "What Happens At Sunday Mass?". I found the few opening questions interesting. In the interest of time, I'll only touch on the second one, which is a three parter. It asks:
What is your favorite image of Jesus?
I think my most very favorite image is one of Him seated on a bluff. His head is covered & He's just looking out over a valley bathed in warm light... I imagine its early morning & He's out there praying & enjoying some time away from the hub bub of everyday life.
The second part of the question asks:
What does this image say about Who Jesus is for you?
When I see this image, I think of Jesus as a companion. He is faithful & because of this, He is also a refuge. He understands me, listens to me & challenges me to listen to Him. He is the place I go to "ground".
The third part of this question asks:
Is the image of Jesus that I associate with the Eucharist the same or different?
Honestly, this one took me by surprise because the image of Jesus I associate with the Eucharist is totally different. In the Eucharist, Jesus leaves. He's saying His goodbyes & preparing His disciples for life without Him. Kind of. He tells them He won't leave them as orphans & that they'll see Him again someday... In the meantime, He'll have the Father send the Holy Spirit to guide them into all truth. But clearly it won't ever be the same as having Jesus physically with them. I discovered my image of Jesus in the Eucharist is actually one of abandonment. But how can I possibly say that?! Perhaps it has something to do with my understanding of the Eucharist & what I have always known as "Communion".
I'm beginning to think that Communion & Eucharist aren't interchangeable synonyms. In Communion, everything is merely symbolic, a remembrance of events that have long since passed. In Communion, Jesus offers the bread & the wine only once to a specialized band of followers who are now dead & gone. We remember THEIR friendship with Christ & what THEY must have felt. In the Eucharist, we're told the priest takes on the person of Christ. In some mystical way- as if time doesn't exist- we get to experience & partake of the Last Supper WITH the disciples. In the Eucharist, if I understand it as such and not merely as some other way to define "Communion", Jesus isn't really abandoning me afterall. He is in fact stepping into my world to offer me & those around me His own Body & Blood for my salvation- today. The Eucharist isn't merely a practice that was instituted 2,000 years ago. Its not just something done on Sundays. It is Jesus' own self made present to us each & every day of our lives. The question is, will we partake? The word itself- Eucharist- means thanksgiving. If we are able to experience Jesus through this thanksgiving, His life, death & resurrection are no longer past events, but present ones that still yield power. Jesus & His disciples are no longer historical figureheads, but companions for us on our own faith journey.