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Eucharist: God's gift for the life of the world

Archbishop Wenski's homily at 'I Am the Bread of Life' gathering for high school students

Archbishop Thomas Wenski preached this homily while celebrating the concluding Mass at the “I Am the Bread of Life” Archdiocese of Miami high school student gathering, held March 22, 2023, on the campus of St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens.

The Holy Eucharist – the Body and Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ present in the Most Blessed Sacrament – is God’s gift for the life of the world.

In the Eucharist, Jesus knocks at the door of our hearts and asks to come in. Receiving our Lord in Holy Communion is, in fact, the privileged encounter with our Risen Lord. Like the Disciples of Emmaus who encountered him as they left Jerusalem sad and discouraged, and who only recognized the Lord in the “breaking of the bread,” so too our encounter with the living Christ is intensified and deepened in the Holy Eucharist.

Before such a great Mystery, words can fail. But we can affirm that:

  • The Eucharist awakens the hope of eternal life in those tempted to despair.
  • The Eucharist opens to sharing those tempted to close their hands.
  • The Eucharist highlights reconciliation rather than division.
  • The Eucharist puts life – in all its stages, from conception till natural death – and human dignity at the center of one’s faith commitment.
  • In a society dominated by a culture of death in which the search for individual comfort, money or power only intensifies, the Eucharist reminds us of the rights of the poor and the duty of justice and solidarity.
  • The Eucharist awakens the Christian community to the immense gift of the new covenant that calls all humanity to go beyond itself.

God once fed the Hebrews who wandered in the desert in search of the Promised Land with manna. God continues to feed his people with the Holy Eucharist, food to strengthen us on our pilgrim journey through this “vale of tears.”

The Eucharist reminds us that our commitment as Catholics to work for peace and justice in the world is not born of some ideology or political platform; rather, it is born of a person, Jesus Christ. And therefore, our “solidarity” with the world of pain (and I like to remind people that here in South Florida, we are surrounded by islands of pain: Haiti, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela), our solidarity is a call to a commitment expressed in allegiance not to lofty propositions but to concrete persons in whom we are to see the face of Christ. This solidarity is lived out through the practice of what the Catechism calls the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. God takes the side of the poor, the oppressed, the marginalized — through the works of mercy, we take their side too.

Ita, Missa est. It is from these final words at the conclusion of the liturgy in Latin that the word, “Mass,” is derived. While it is translated, “Go, the Mass is ended,” it might be also better rendered as, “Go, it is the sending,” for Mass implies mission. “We cannot ascend” to the dwelling place of God except “by going out on the roads of the world, carrying the Gospel to all nations, carrying the gift of its love for men at all times.” (Pope Benedict XVI)