Editor’s note: This the third in a series of articles on the Eucharistic Revival that is currently underway nationally. The writer, Sister Katie Eiffe, is Vicar for Religious and the Director of Synodal Planning.
Father Lucien Deiss, the noted liturgical composer and theologian, once wrote, “The mystery of the Eucharist is the continuation of mystery of the Incarnation.”
The Doctrine of the Incarnation refers to the belief that the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Son of God — Jesus — chose to become human, “like us in all things except sin.” In the poetic language of the first chapter of the Gospel of John, we read, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us …” Or, as we pray in the Nicene Creed: “I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, consubstantial with the Father; through him all things were made. For us (men) and for our salvation, he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary and became man.” The words slide off our lips every Sunday.
God chose to become one of us. God chose to share our human life, with all its joys and all its sorrows. Sometimes, I think, in our desire to show reverence for God, we forget that God became fully human in Jesus. God understands us from within! And, in becoming fully human, God reveals again what was revealed in the story of creation in Genesis — the goodness of being human! When we look at Jesus’ humanity, we come to realize that Jesus came to teach us how to live in such a way as to make God’s presence known in our world.
The noted theologian Father Ron Rolheiser, in a wonderful book titled Our One Great Act of Fidelity, writes, “God took on flesh in Jesus, but the Incarnation didn’t end when Jesus ascended back to the Father after his resurrection. The Incarnation is still going on. God is still taking on concrete flesh in this world. … In the Christian Scriptures, the term ‘body of Christ’ is used to refer equally to three things: the historical body of Jesus, the body of believers, and the Eucharist. … Along with the community of believers, the Eucharist is God’s physical presence, God’s real presence, in the world. The Eucharist is the place where God continues to take concrete physical flesh just as he once did in the womb of Mary. In the Eucharist, the word continues to become flesh” (pp. 16-17).
As disciples, we strive to live as Jesus lived, loving unconditionally, forgiving everything and sharing the gift of self in service. We are assisted in our striving not only by the example he set, but by the nourishment of Eucharist. We are the Body of Christ in the world.
God remains with us! God remains within us! When we live as disciples, we witness God’s presence once again in our world. As we approach the Feast of Christmas … indeed the Feast of the Incarnation …
we are grateful for the gift of God’s ongoing presence in the Eucharist. May our celebration of Christmas lead us to a deeper understanding of God’s presence with us and within us.
Blessed Christmas to you!