Eucharist and Social Justice – What’s the Connection?

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By Daniel Quintero, Summer 2012 Intern

How many of us can remember the first time we received the Eucharist fully understanding what we were receiving—Not seeing it as a matter of routine but for what it truly was, the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ? That moment for when we were lifted up in awe over what was occurring and how blessed we were to take part in it.

For me, this great moment came when I first knelt for communion. My legs were trembling, my heart was pounding; all I could do was move forward inch by inch in anticipation for what was to occur. Then as I approached the altar, I knelt humbly in front of the priest. When the priest raised the host, as he raised Jesus, never before had I needed to lift my head so high to see Him. There He was, the source and summit of our faith. It was at this point that I knew my faith had matured and love for it had grown.

THE EUCHARIST UNITES US

Regardless of the manner in which we receive the Eucharist, whether it be kneeling, standing, in a wheelchair, or on a deathbed—the focal point is that we are all receiving the same Body and Blood of Christ. Thus, we all united in this intimate connection with Our Lord. This understanding is what reminds us of our special status as One Church.

THE KEY TO SOCIAL JUSTICE

No matter how many times my family members are unable to eat together, or see each other everyday, when we go to Mass together, we are united as one by the Eucharist. So, too, for all of our Catholic brothers and sisters throughout the world. This is the key to social justice. The Eucharist is social (life affirming) and just (giving due to what is right and just.) It is the life of the Church, as Pope Benedict XVI expressed at the 49th Eucharistic Congress. As such, it unites us to foster and defend social justice. Not as a secondary option, but as key to our Eucharistic Identity. Pope Benedict XVI expressed this when he said,

“It is by receiving the Body of Christ that we receive the strength ‘of unity with God and with one another.’”

Many defend social justice without expressing its true goal: advancing men’s eternal destiny. From the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church:

“With her social doctrine, the Church aims ‘at helping man on the path of salvation’. This is her primary and sole purpose.” (69).

The Eucharist, then, is the key to understanding our final vision for social justice. “It is the anticipation of the banquet in the eternal Kingdom” (Pope Benedict XVI, Eucharistic Congress) To strive for Heaven is to take part in the Eucharist. To take part in the Eucharist is to share in solidarity with all members of the mystical Body of Christ. This demands a call to action, a desire to defend life in every stage, to fight persecution in every region, and to love in every act.

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