104. If God were to offer to do an amazing work to foster faith in the Church and in the world today, what would we ask? We may like to ask for signs and wonders, lightnings and fire, like the pillars of cloud and fire as in the Exodus with Moses. Or we may ask for Eucharistic miracles like bleeding or levitating hosts to deepen our faith in the Eucharist. Perhaps we would simply ask for cultural circumstances to be more favorable to religion.
105. None of this would do any good with respect to faith. Saint John Henry Newman in a sermon entitled “Miracles No Remedy for Unbelief” recalls the Lord’s words that the Israelites “refused to believe in me, despite all the signs I have performed among them” (Numbers 14:11); and that chief priests and pharisees called a council to put Christ to death because he “is performing many signs” (Jn 11:47). Newman’s sobering conclusion is that “nothing is gained by miracles, nothing comes of miracles, as regards our religious views, principles, and habits”. He knows that too often we find our ourselves having gone “year after year with the vain dream of turning to God some future day”. What should we ask from God, then, to strengthen faith?
106. The answer is not in looking for outward miracles or improved circumstances. No, look elsewhere. Newman points to the way forward by saying, “instead of looking for outward events to change our course of life, be sure of this, that if our course of life is to be changed, if must be from within. God’s grace moves us from within, so does our own will”. His point is that if we do not love God, it is because we have not wanted to love Him, tried to love Him, or prayed to love Him.
107. What we should humbly and fervently ask from God, then, is a deepening of our love for Him with our whole heart. We should ask for this gift because love of God is the only way to God. What rouses us to love God more than the Sacrament of Love, the Eucharist? But as Saint Thomas Aquinas wrote, the mystery of love in the Eucharist is available not to our unaided senses but only to faith: “Sight, touch, taste fail with regard to Thee, but only by hearing does one believe surely; I believe whatever God’s Son said: nothing is truer than the word of Truth”. The Church’s ultimate reason to believe in the Eucharist is because she trusts Jesus. She has faith in her Lord’s words spoken up and down the centuries on the lips of her priests: “This is My Body given up for you”. The Blessed Sacrament is thus the greatest sign given by God to stir up love in the hearts of His people until He comes again. Let us beg God for the grace to be on fire with the divine love which flows from the heart of Christ in the Sacrament of His Body and Blood.
108. My dear sons and daughters in Christ, the Eucharist is the heart of our faith. It is the center of the faith of the Church for it is Christ Himself. All the concrete expressions of Eucharistic faith I mention above represent our humble response to this mystery. If done in trusting surrender to God, they are meant to draw us closer to the eternal wedding banquet to which every Eucharistic celebration is a foretaste. May we never tire of discovering that the Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life! As from the source of a great river, everything that matters in life flows from it. As to a great mountain peak, all the striving and struggle of life seeks it.
109. For this reason, while we continue this earthly journey towards the eternal Promised Land, we rejoice that the Eucharistic Christ is our protection against powerful currents of selfishness and worldly temptations. In all of his Eucharistic hymns, Aquinas always ends them pointing out the connection between the Eucharist and heaven. In the hymn “Panis Angelicus”, he gives voice to the ultimate desire and longing of every human heart: “We ask You, O God Three and One, to visit us just as we celebrate You; along Your paths, lead us to where we are headed, to the light where You dwell”. He reminds us that the most effective way for us to prepare for eternal life is to seek to be nourished by Jesus in the Eucharist.
110. I wish to conclude this exhortation by turning to Mary, Our Mother, whom Saint John Paul II called “‘a woman of the Eucharist’ in her whole life” (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, no. 53). Let us entrust our Eucharistic life of her Son’s gift of Himself to her solicitude and care. She lived her faith at the moment of the Annunciation when she was asked to believe that the One whom she conceived through the Holy Spirit was the Son of God. For us, before the Eucharistic mystery we are also asked to believe that the same Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Son of Mary, becomes present in His full humanity and divinity under the appearances of bread and wine. Her faith-filled consent allowed God to be born in her, making her the Ark of the New Covenant. “With her ‘yes’ she opened the door of our world to God Himself; she became the living Ark of the Covenant, in whom God took flesh, became one of us, and pitched His tent among us” (cf. John 1:14). (Spe Salvi, no. 49). She was the first to receive Jesus in her heart. She became the first tabernacle where God dwells in the fullest possible sense. After Pentecost but before her Assumption into heaven, surely she regularly received the Eucharist from the hands of the Apostles.
111. Who more than Mary is a star of hope for us so that we can see the way to go as followers of Jesus Christ, since we have never been this way before? Who more than Mary can help us renew our faith and fortify our love and devotion to Jesus in the Eucharist? Confident in her maternal care and intercession, let us invoke and imitate Our Lady, woman of the Eucharist:
Blessed Mother, who with your generous “Fiat” unleashed the Fountain of all graces in our world, intercede for us who desire ever greater faith and devotion in your Divine Son that we might cooperate with His work of Redemption.
May the Eucharistic Lord always find in our hearts a welcome dwelling as He did in yours.
Be our refuge and companion on our pilgrim way to the heavenly home where with you and all the Saints we enjoy eternal communion with your Son who is our rock of refuge in all of life’s storms.
Amen.BACK TO LIST