with Paul Ray
The Sacrament of Charity: The Eucharist and Witness
We begin this week in paragraph 85 of Pope (Emeritus) Benedict XVI’s 2007 Apostolic Exhortation on the Holy Eucharist and take a look at the Eucharist and Witness. What exactly does the Holy Father mean when he uses the term “witness”? He means that we are to be witnesses to the world of His love. The Eucharist gives us the “impulse” we need to be able to make our witness a reality. We become witnesses when, through our actions, words and way of being, we reflect the love God has for us (as shown and received in the Eucharist) and it is poured out onto others. This makes Christ present to those whom God placed into our lives.
But what does a witness do? What does witnessing God’s love to others look like? We find our answer by looking at Christ’s witness. John 18:37 gives us the answer: Jesus was one who came (to witness) to “testify to the truth.” He was the “true and faithful witness (Revelation 1:5; 3:14)” Like Christ who was a witness even unto death,(the actual Greek word used in the New Testament for witness literally translates as ‘martyr’) we must be ready and willing to do the same.
The early Christians understood this well. Just one look at the life and witness of say, St. Ignatius of Antioch (AD 35- AD108) or St. Polycarp (AD 69- AD 155) shows us that they grasped the deep meaning of what Jesus called them to do as witnesses. The Eucharist was what gave them, and thousands of other early Christians, the grace and strength to endure, like Christ, unto the end. We are called to do the same thing today. Pope Benedict says, “The Christian who offers his life in martyrdom enters into full communion with the Pasch of Jesus Christ and thus becomes eucharist with Him.”
Even if the test of martyrdom is not asked of us, we know that worship pleasing to God demands that we should be inwardly prepared for it. Such worship culminates in the joyful and convincing testimony of a consistent Christian life, wherever the Lord calls us to be His witnesses. When we testify to the truth, like Our Lord, and prepare our hearts for anything, we are being true witness. And the Holy Eucharist is our source of strength, power and most importantly, love. - Paul A. Ray
NEXT WEEK: Christ Jesus, the One Savior and Freedom of Worship