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Easter is the Feast of the Eucharist!

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Easter is the Feast of the Eucharist!

Happy Easter! Here is a link to this Sunday’s readings.

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The disciples encounter Jesus on the road to Emmaus, relief on the baptismal font in the church of Saint Matthew in Stitar, Croatia

Easter is a Eucharistic feast. It is THE Eucharistic feast. The Eucharist has no meaning apart from Easter, and Easter is only understood in the Eucharist.

One of the most important stories about the Resurrection of Christ is Luke’s recollection of the events on the Road to Emmaus. It is also the most explicit passage in Scripture linking Easter with the Eucharist: “‘The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!’ Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of bread.” We had hints about this on Holy Thursday, when the Eucharist was instituted as a new Passover celebration. In the mind of the Church, the Easter Triduum is one continuous liturgy that must be read backwards to ascertain its meaning. The fear and confusion of Holy Saturday have meaning only in Easter. The trial, scourging, and crucifixion of Jesus only have meaning in Easter. Likewise, the Last Supper has meaning only in Easter. Everything in the Christian life—every last detail of ritual, Scripture, ethics, faith, and tradition—finds its meaning in Easter, or not at all. History itself exists only for Easter! The Resurrection of Christ is what God had in mind from the beginning. In the words of St. Augustine, “The resurrection of Christ was God’s supreme and wholly marvelous work.” And it can only be comprehended, to the degree we can comprehend it at all, in light of the Eucharist.

Sometimes, we make the mistake of thinking that God’s plan was the perfection of the Garden of Eden—walking with God, no sickness or death—and that we messed it up with sin, forcing God, in mercy, to devise an alternate plan, a plan of salvation. How wrong we are! “God has no second thoughts,” the theologian Bernard Lonergan teaches us. Christ is the reason for creation from the start! Christ was not a Plan B! In other words, the Eucharist is the very reason for all of creation. It is THE perfect gift. Eden, despite how wonderful it was, lacked this gift and fell short of the fullness that God intended to offer.  Although it was Paradise, although our first parents shared the life of God through sanctifying grace, God had something better still in mind. From all eternity, God had Christ in mind. God had Easter in mind. God had the Eucharist in mind.

shutterstock_492388222In the Eucharist, we receive Christ; but Christ also receives us! Everything we are is received by Christ and transformed through the Paschal Mystery into a pure offering of love to the Father in the Spirit. All of our good works are received. All our prayers are received. All our brokenness is received. All our suffering is received. All of our sin is received. Nothing is left behind. As we carefully clean up every last crumb of Eucharistic bread and every last drop of the Precious Blood, recognizing even the smallest iota as the fullness of Christ, so too does Christ leave nothing of us behind. He receives us in our entirety, putting to death on the cross that which must die, and bringing us ever more fully into the new life of grace, life in the Spirit.

I am still failing to capture the power and majesty of all this! It is impossible to describe or fully comprehend! When we receive Christ in the Eucharist, we are fulfilling the deepest desires of Love itself. We are brought into union with our beloved God, who desires, even at the cost of suffering and death, to be united with His Beloved. Holy Communion is exactly that: it is the way in which we are swept up into the Divine Love, in communion with our God and with one another. United with Christ, we enter into the very heart of the Trinity. We enter into the Love Affair that is the Divine Life without end. We find the very meaning and fulfillment of our existence, and of existence itself. We were created for Communion! We are in Heaven when we are in Love!

If we think the Eucharist is a memorial meal, we are right. But it is more. If we think it is nourishment for the journey, we are right. But it is more. If we think it is Christ’s presence among us for all time, we are right. But it is more. If we think it is Christ’s way of dwelling in us and, through us, in the world, we are right. But it is still more. If we think it is Christ’s way of working through us for the salvation of the world, we are right. But it is still more. If we think it is the sacrifice that washes us free from sin, we are right. But it is still even more. If we think it is the promise of eternal life, we are right. But it is still even more than that. The Eucharist is the consummation of God’s love for

"The Trinity" by Russian Orthodox author Andrei Rublev, in which we enter into the perfect unity of the Trinity at the Eucharistic table. 15th C.

“The Trinity” by Russian Orthodox author Andrei Rublev, in which we enter into the perfect unity of the Trinity at the Eucharistic table. 15th C.

humanity! It is our participation in the Easter Mystery! It is already our being swept up into the heart of the Trinity, where our every desire to love and to be loved is satisfied without being satiated! Like the burning bush, we are on fire with an ecstasy that does not burn out! We forget about ourselves and we fall, and keep falling, deeper and deeper into an infinite Heart that continues to give and receive Love, revealing mysteries of Its infinite Self to us without end; and with each beautiful revelation, a deeper falling into Love. We are caught up in the dynamism of Divine Romance. We can think of nothing except our Beloved, and time ceases to exist. We are in eternity. In Communion, Love has defeated death forever! Christ is Risen!

Happy Easter, Beloved of God!! Alleluia!! Alleluia!! Alleluia!!

 

Editorial credit: Zvonimir Atletic / Shutterstock.com for the Road to Emmaus image.

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7 Comments
  • Mary Ellen Herx
    Posted at 14:25h, 17 April Reply

    Kevin, can you say more about your definition of “God’s plan,” please. In particular, do you think God has one certain plan in mind for each of us (God wants me to be a dentist, not a doctor) or a general plan (God wants me to always do the loving thing and ultimately, God wants me to be happy)? Do you see God as both never changing and as responding to us as our own situations change?

    • Kevin Dowd
      Posted at 16:00h, 25 April Reply

      Hi Mary Ellen,
      In this case, by God’s plan I mean salvation itself, the fullness of the Kingdom. God’s will cannot be confounded and part of the mystery and majesty of God’s plan is precisely that it incorporates our free will decisions without in any way abusing our freedom. After all, without freedom there cannot be love. I always liked the line at the end on Ron Hansen’s novel “Mariette in Ecstasy” where the main character is praying for God to illuminate her regarding God’s will in her life. The response she hears is, “Surprise me!” Whatever “surprises” we offer God are gladly accepted and perfected in Christ, by the power of the Spirit, and worked by God towards the fulfillment of God’s plan, which is the Kingdom. That is my understanding in a nutshell. I hope that is a helpful response.
      Peace always,
      Kevin

  • Marion Collins
    Posted at 21:29h, 18 April Reply

    Kevin, this is an amazing blog. You have presented us with a whole new perspective on celebrating Easter centered on the Eucharist. As you have said in Presentations, the Eucharist is the source and summit of our lives and you have given it a new focus during Holy Week..
    That focus is certainly true and your way of repetitive statements is dynamite to our understanding. I have always loved the account of Jesus on the road to Emmaeus and now have an entirely new concept of Holy Week.and the Eucharist as the true and perfect gift.
    I am also delighted to have you point out that just as Jesus is a gift to us, In the Eucharist Jesus receives us as we are and makes us a gift to the Father. We are redeemed in the Trinity.. I never thought of it that way and find it so joyous! The way you have defined the Eucharist, saying ” it is more than this” as you point out the various aspects of the Eucharist is dynamic, drawing us into the real Love of God for all of us!
    Indeed He has Risen-Alleluia!!! Thank you Kevin Dowd for through this marvelous blog the Eucharist and Easter have risen to a new focus for us.
    Bayard, I thank you again for making this dynamic blog available and ever so enriching!

    • Kevin Dowd
      Posted at 15:52h, 25 April Reply

      Hi Mamie.
      I am so glad that this Easter message resonated with you so deeply. I was fearful that I wouldn’t be able to convey in words the absolute miracle of Christ in the Eucharist as central to the Easter mystery. Indeed, “it is even more” than anything my poor words could possibly convey!
      Easter blessings,
      Kevin

  • Angela
    Posted at 01:42h, 20 April Reply

    Wow! Thank you for this perspective! I was really struck by your statement that Christ was no plan B! Unfortunately, I used to present it that way to children, lackIng a better way to explain free wiil, the fall of man and God’s provision of the Savior. What you said is so much richer in meaning and much more profound than my previous, very limited understanding of Eden and Salvation history.

    • Kevin Dowd
      Posted at 15:50h, 25 April Reply

      Hi Angela,
      Thanks for your comment. I also used to teach it from that perspective… and perhaps it is a good place to start, but as our faith grows so too does our understanding. I know I still have so much more to learn! A special thank you for teaching the faith. Your ministry is critical in the life of the Church!
      Blessings,
      Kevin

  • Angela
    Posted at 02:02h, 20 April Reply

    Wow! Thank you for this perspective! I was really struck by your statement that Christ was not a plan B! Unfortunately, I used to present it that way to children, lackIng a better way to explain free wiil, the fall of man and God’s provision of the Savior. What you said is so much richer in meaning and much more profound than my previous, very limited understanding of Eden and Salvation history. The Eucharist is the perfect gift of God’s perfect, unconditional and sacrificial love. You are right. There is so much more to it than we can fully grasp!

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