Jesus did not leave us a statue, a photograph, a relic. He wanted to continue to be present among his disciples as nourishment. The food is not placed on the table to be contemplated, but to be consumed. Christians who go to Mass, but not receive Holy Communion, should be aware that they are not participating fully in the Eucharistic celebration.
The food becomes part of ourselves. By eating the body and drinking the blood of Christ we accept his invitation to identify ourselves with him. We say to God and to the community that we intend to form a single body with Christ; we wish to assimilate his gesture of love and we want to give our lives to the brothers and sisters, as he did. We don’t do this challenging choice alone but together with a whole community. The Eucharist is not a food to be consumed in solitude: it is bread broken and shared between brothers and sisters. It is not conceivable that, on the one hand, a gesture is placed that indicates unity, sharing, equality, reciprocal giving and οn the other the perpetuation of conflicts, hatreds, jealousies, hoarding of goods, overpowering is tolerated. A community that celebrates the rite of the “breaking of bread” in these unworthy conditions eats and drinks—as Paul recalls—his own condemnation (1 Cor 11:28-29). It is a community that turns the sacrament into a lie. It is like a girl who, smiling, accepted from her boyfriend the ring, symbol of an indissoluble bond of love and, at the same time, betrays him with other lovers.
To internalize the message, we repeat: “The Eucharist makes me attentive to all forms of hunger of the brothers and sisters: hunger for bread, hunger for love, hunger for understanding, hunger for forgiveness and above all hunger for God.”
What is the identity card of Christians? What feature distinguishes them from the followers of other religions? Not the love of neighbor: the others too—we know—do good. Not prayer, the Muslims also pray. Not the faith in God: the pagans have too. It is not enough to believe in God. It is important to know in which God we believe. Is he a “something” or a “someone”? Is he a father who wants to share his life or an employer who is looking for new subjects?
The Muslims say: God is absolute. He is the creator who lives up there, governs from above, never comes down, a judge who is waiting for the showdown.
The Jews—on the contrary—say that God walks with his people, manifests himself in history, seeks an alliance with people.
Christians celebrate today the specific aspect of their faith: they believe in a Triune God. They believe that God is the Father who created the universe and directs it with wisdom and love. They believe that he did not remain in heaven, but in his image, the Son, he came to become one of us. They believe that he accomplishes his plan of love with his power, with his Spirit.
Every idea or expression of God has an immediate impact on the identity of people. The face of God who is Father, Son and Spirit should be recognizable in every Christian. The visible image of the Trinity is the church that receives everything from God and gives everything for free. She is wholly projected, as Jesus, toward the brothers and sisters in an attitude of unconditional availability. In her, the diversity is not eliminated in the name of unity, but is considered an enrichment.
The imprint of the Trinity in families, sign of a genuine dialogue of love, mutual understanding and willingness to open the hearts to those who need to feel loved, must be captured.
To internalize the message, we repeat: “I seek your face, O Lord, do not hide your face from me.”
The natural phenomena that impress most the imagination of man—fire, lightning, hurricane, earthquake, thunder (Ex 19:16-19)—are used in the Bible to describe the manifestations of God.
The sacred authors also used images to present the outpouring of the Lord’s Spirit. They said that the Spirit is a breath of life (Gn 2:7), the rain that irrigates the land and transforms the desert into a garden (Is 32:15; 44:3), a force that restores life (Ex 37:1-14), the rumble from the sky, wind that strongly blows, thunder, tongues of fire (Acts 2:1-3). All vigorous images that suggest the idea of an uncontrollable bursts of strength!
Where the Spirit comes radical upheavals and transformation always happen: barriers fall, doors are opened wide; all the towers built by human hands and designed by “the wisdom of this world” shake; fear, passivity and quietism disappear; initiatives are developed and courageous decisions are made. Who is dissatisfied and aspires the renewal of the world and of man can count on the Spirit: nothing can resist its power.
One day the prophet Jeremiah asked himself discouragingly: “Can an Ethiopian change his skin or a leopard his spots? And can you do good, you who are accustomed to do evil?” (Jer 13:23). Yes—one can answer him—every prodigy is possible where the Spirit of God erupts.
To internalize the message, we repeat: “The Spirit of the Lord fills the earth and renews the face of the earth.”