Sometimes we take our Catholic lingo for granted, forgetting that like any other group, we have jargon. It takes time to get acclimated to it. If we are not attentive, sometimes the meaning of our own jargon eludes us. Maybe we grew up hearing a word and everyone seemed to know what it meant (except us, of course) and we were too ashamed to ask about it. As a result, when we listen to our pastor’s homily, faithfully looking for that spiritual nugget he delivers each week, we frown in confusion. “Let your love be eucharistic,” he says. We know what he says is true, and our whole heart affirms it in faith, but we puzzle over its meaning. What does it mean for love to be eucharistic? We believe in the Eucharist, and the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, but what does it mean for my love to be eucharistic?
I would like to suggest four ways to understand this.
First, eucharistic love is gratuitous. From its Greek roots, “eucharist” means thanksgiving or good grace/favor. God’s love for us is gratuitous because he loves us prior to anything good we do or become that could earn any love. Saint Paul said that’s how God proved his love, that he died while we were yet sinners (Rom 5:8). For our love to be eucharistic, then, means that we also offer gifts to others without first sizing up whether they are worthy. Instead of asking ourselves if the homeless person deserves our help, let’s take the chance and buy him lunch anyway.
Second, eucharistic love is empowered by God. Because every good gift has its origin in God, we cannot hope to love eucharistically if we expect the power to do so to come from ourselves. Jesus told us, “Apart from me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5). To love eucharistically is to love with reliance on God’s divine power loving through us. Instead of white-knuckling our way through the day, whether at work, school, or home, let’s pray for God’s help and recognize that he delights in granting us the help we need.
Third, eucharistic love demands totality. When Christ approached his Passion, he “loved his disciples to the end” (John 13:1). He held nothing back when he offered his very self on the Cross for us. Eucharistic love knows no limit or measure. Empowered by God and not waiting for others to deserve it, we can love eucharistically when we give everything. It costs us to take time from our day, to break our routine in order to make someone else’s concerns our own. Instead of seeing these as distractions or delays to our own plans, let’s pray for the grace to expand our love so that they become opportunities to give our whole heart to them. As St. Paul put it, “Whatever you do, work with your whole heart, as for the Lord and not for men” (Col 3:23).
Fourth, eucharistic loves is ordered toward Christ. In the Eucharist, Jesus makes himself present substantially, though under sacramental forms of bread and wine. To love eucharistically can simply mean to love Jesus by adoring his presence in the Blessed Sacrament. Find out where and when Eucharistic Adoration takes place near you and spend an extra ten minutes, or more if you can, with Jesus. By getting to know him, by growing in close friendship with our Lord, your love can become ever more eucharistic.
Image: Giotto di Bondone, Christ Washing the Disciples’ Feet