Fr. Pavone on the feast of Corpus Christi: ‘The Eucharist is a sacrament of life’
June 2, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — On the Feast of Corpus Christi, the Church sets aside a day for us to reflect on the gift of the true bread from heaven. It was foreshadowed by the manna that was sent from heaven to the Israelites on their journey to the Promised Land. Each day God fed them with the bread from heaven. In this way, God was with them.
This bread we consecrate in the Mass and then consume after we offer it to the Father is the fulfillment of all the different ways Jesus remains with his people. He remains with us by his Spirit. He remains with us in his Word. He remains with us in the community where two or three are gathered. He remains with us through his ministers, appointed by him to preach the Gospel. But above all, Jesus is with us physically in this Blessed Sacrament, the Eucharist.
I want to reflect here on the different dimensions of the Eucharist from the vantage point of our commitment to defend human life. This is our full-time ministry at Priests for Life, and it has been my whole ministry, devoted to protecting the unborn — the youngest and smallest children — bringing an end to the violence of abortion, the most prevalent violence in the world. The Eucharist has a lot to say about this commitment that I share with so many of you.
The Eucharist, first of all, is a sacrament of faith. The Eucharist doesn’t look any different from unconsecrated bread, and yet faith tells us there’s something more there, beyond what we see and beyond size. The smallest little particle of the Eucharist is God, is Jesus, is his body and blood and soul and divinity. Faith teaches us that the value of something does not depend on its size or its appearance, so we learn from every particle of the Eucharist.
The Eucharist is a sacrament of life. “We proclaim your death, O Lord, and we profess your resurrection,” we say in Mass. Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again. What happens in this sacrifice of the Eucharist? Death is conquered. That’s what happened. “Dying you destroyed our death, rising you restored our life.” Jesus has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through his Gospel. To stand with Christ is to stand with life and, therefore, to stand against whatever destroys life, and there’s nothing, nothing, that’s destroying more life than abortion.
The Eucharist is a sacrament of true worship. By shedding his blood, by offering his body, Jesus established a new form of worship, a true form of worship that puts God at the center of our lives, of our choices, of our thoughts, of our desires, of our actions. We have the center of gravity shift from ourselves — that’s the kingdom of darkness, the culture of death, when we assert that we have the right to do anything merely because we want to do it. That’s not worship; it’s the opposite of worship. This notion of pro-choice, that everything ultimately depends on what I think, what I believe, and what I choose, that’s a quick road to hell. That’s not the unity of the human family.
True worship — putting God at the center, putting Christ in the middle of everything and letting him be the center of gravity — teaches us that we find our freedom, our happiness, and our fulfillment precisely when we submit our choices to him. Yes, we have our freedom of choice, but why? So that we can freely choose him, not that we can freely choose to kill. Happiness is not found by pushing someone else out of the way; it’s found when we push ourselves out of the way and make room for the other person.
The Eucharist is a sacrament of unity. “When I am lifted up from the earth,” Jesus says, “I will draw all people to myself.” That’s what he does on the cross. He’s lifted up on the cross, and then he’s lifted up in the glory of the resurrection and the ascension. He’s breaking down the enmity that existed between us and God. He’s creating one new person — the Church. He is the head; we are the members. Abortion seeks to destroy that unity. There is no more direct and devastating attack on human relationships than abortion.
The Eucharist is a sacrament of love. Love —the most abused and misused word, but the Word of God restores its original meaning. In scripture we find that God showed his love to us by offering his son as a sacrifice for our sins. In the Eucharist is where we find the meaning of love: I sacrifice myself. The greatest symbol of love is not the heart; it’s the crucifix. “This is my body,” the Lord says, “given for you that you may have life.” Some will take those words and say, “This is my body. I can do what I want. Even if it means killing the baby, it’s my body.” They use those words in the service of death. Jesus uses them in the service of life, and at every Mass we are saying those words, and we are brought right to the heart of the meaning of this Eucharist — the sacrifice, the sacrament, the revelation of love, and by receiving it, we have the power to love.
Let us make this feast of the Eucharist — this feast of Corpus Christi — a feast of welcome: welcoming him and one another in this sacrament of faith life, true worship, unity, and love. May that be the fruit of this celebration.