Thursday, June 7, 2012

Devotion for today: Peace from the Lord

Today Pope Benedict XVI explains “Peace” as one of the names of the Eucharistic Sacrament.

Scripture for meditation: Matthew 5:24
…leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.

Scripture for reflection: Ephesians 2:14
Christ is our peace.

Pope Benedict XVI tells us: Grace and peace from God, our Father, and from Christ. This is the task of the priest and the bishop: to call into our age, again and again, the grace and peace of the Lord. This is in the first instance a quite human appeal, that we should be men of grace and of peace in our dealings with one another, that we should not be forever keeping account, that we should be capable of drawing a line under things, not thinking about unsettled accounts, not people who allow the poison of resentment to fester and spread within them, but who are capable of getting over things, of making a new start. The Greek word for “grace”, charis, derives from the word for “joy” and means at the same time rejoicing, joy and also beauty, pleasure, sympathy. Where all this is present – just for once setting aside what we could perhaps still demand; beginning again; generosity of the heart, which does not keep something stored up in some corner of our memory for bringing out later – there joy can grow, there beauty springs up, there goodness shines out into the world, and peace comes to be. Certainly, these human actions of ours and our human will are never in the end enough. And the priest is never merely a preacher of morality. He proclaims something we humans cannot give: the new reality that comes to us from God, in Christ, and that is more than just words and intentions. The early Church understood the mystery of the Eucharist as underlying the expression “peace”. “Peace” very quickly became one of the names for the Eucharistic Sacrament, for it is there that God does in fact come to meet us, that he sets us free, that, although we are debtors, guilty in his sight, he takes us in his arms, gives himself to us. And by leading us to himself, introducing us into the communion of his Body, by introducing us into the same sphere of his love, by feeding us with the same Bread, he also gives us to one another as brothers and sisters. The Eucharist is peace from the Lord. (God is Near Us, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Ignatius Press, 2003)

Prayer: Lord, who at Your first Eucharist didst pray
That all Your Church might be forever one,
Grant us that ev’ry Eucharist to say
With longing heart and soul, “Your will be done.”
O may we all one bread, one body be,
Through this blest sacrament of unity.

For all Your Church, O Lord, we intercede;
O make our sad divisions soon to cease;
Draw us the nearer each to each, we plead,
By drawing all to You, O Prince of Peace;
Thus may we all one bread, one body be,
Through this blest sacrament of unity.

We pray You too for wand’rers from Your fold;
O bring them back, good Shepherd of the sheep,
Back to the faith which saints believed of old,
Back to the Church which still that faith does keep;
Soon may we all one bread, one body be,
Through this blest sacrament of unity.

So, Lord, at length when sacraments shall cease,
May we be one with all Your Church above,
One with Your saints in one unbroken peace,
One with Your saints in one unbounded love;
More blessed still, in peace and love to be
One with the Trinity in Unity.
(William Turton, 1881)

My thoughts: I recently had an interesting conversation with a friend. She was telling me about many problems she had with people in her life. At the end of the conversation I asked her to simply let go of it all: to stop her record keeping of hurts, insults, perceived slights, and to just pray for people who offend her. I asked her if receiving Holy Communion helped her in her daily life, and she admitted that it didn’t help at all. It was just something she automatically did, but she didn’t expect anything to come of the reception of the host. Therein rests the sadness of Catholics today. They don’t expect to receive anything from the reception of Jesus in the Eucharist. Pope Benedict tells us very clearly that we must associate the Eucharist with peace. That means we must stop holding everyone accountable and let it all go. An empty vessel can receive much wine. A heart empty of record keeping can receive great peace. We must prepare for it and we must expect it. Then we must share it.

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