ANOTHER lesson made clear to me during the IEC is that the Eucharist can well be the very test and proof of our catholicity and universality. Itâ€™s in that sacrament where the universal mind and heart is required as well as developed.
And thatâ€™s simply because the Eucharist represents the very mind and heart of Christ who gave us the new commandment that summarizes and perfects all the previous commandments: â€œYou love one another as I have loved you, that you also love one another.â€ (Jn 13,34)
Itâ€™s a love that covers everyone, including our enemies, the unlovable, the sinners, offenders, those who are wrong in a human issue and all others who are so different from us that for one reason or another we may not be able to love or like.
These can include those who persecute us, who terrorize us, who kill us. These can include those who attack the Church and its teaching. We have to learn to love them the way Christ loves them, all the way to offering our life for them, for as Christ himself said, â€œNo greater love has one than he who offers his life for his friend.â€
In fact, one sure sign our loving is authentic is when we are willing to adapt ourselves to them without compromising our Christian identity. Otherwise, our love is fake, no matter how fervently we profess it. Our love gets spoiled and deteriorates into self-rigtheousness.
Remember what our Lord said about this point. â€œIf you love them that love you, what reward shall you have? Do not even the publicans do this?â€ (Mt 5,46)
Thus, our Lord explicitly said that we have to love our enemies, to do good to them that hate us and pray for those who persecute and calumniate us. This is how we are going to be identified as children of God who makes his sun to rise upon the good and bad, the rain on the just and the unjust.
Love, whose seat today is the Eucharist, involves by definition all we have and is given without measure or calculation.Â This essence of love is what breaks us loose from our limited human condition to make our world universal, not entangled in some parochial, partisan or isolationist grip.
Eucharistic love matures and perfects us. It checks on our tendency to be self-seeking and self-absorbed so as to be â€œall things to all men.â€ (1 Cor 9,22) It brings us not only to others, but rather to God himself, identifying us with him, for â€œGod is love.â€
This love is what properly measures out our true dignity and value as persons and children of God. Itâ€™s not just some wisdom or knowledge or talents and any human power, though all these are instruments and tools of love.
Itâ€™s high time that we understand the need for true love, the love of Christ in the Eucharist, to give ourselves a universal heart. Itâ€™s not the sciences, the philosophies and the ideologies, no matter how good and useful they are, that can accomplish this. These can only be at best loveâ€™s tools.
We have to disabuse ourselves from this mentality that, sadly, is constantly nourished and reinforced by some pagan thinking thatâ€™s dominating our world today.
We have to go beyond them. Thatâ€™s why thereâ€™s a need to develop the appropriate attitudes and virtues, all done in the context of Godâ€™s grace, for nothing succeeds without Godâ€™s grace.
We have to learn to be patient, and to be â€œrich in mercy and slow to anger.â€ We have to know how to take on different and even conflicting positions in human issues without undermining our love for one another.
This surely means we have to learn how to discipline our feelings and passions, knowing when to talk and when not. We have to learn how to convert difficult, humiliating moments into moments of graciousness and magnanimity.
We have to avoid bearing grudges or worse, nurturing animosities. Letâ€™s remember that whatever happens, we are all men and women, children of God, who are obliged to love one another.
We have to learn how to be positive, encouraging and optimistic in our tack to problems instead of sinking into pessimism and hostility. We can never overdo in our efforts to learn the finer details of tact and diplomacy. We should try our best to understand others well, to put ourselves in their feet, to know where they are coming from, etc.
Given the present worldâ€™s rush to specialized knowledge that inevitably generates divisions, we have to double up our efforts to cultivate this universal Eucharistic heart. (By Fr. Roy Cimagala)