by BCBP Editor

eucharist bread smBy Fr. James H. Kroeger, MM
A Eucharistic Congress Reflection

AS we joyfully participate in the International Eucharistic Congress in Cebu, we can recall that Saint Pope John Paul II endeared himself to Filipinos during his two papal visits (1981 and 1995); he visited Cebu on February 19-20, 1981. Another interesting fact is that his message for World Mission Sunday 2005 was the last public document he issued—and it is filled with numerous insights to enrich our view of the Eucharist and Christian mission.

John Paul II’s “Mission: Bread Broken for the Life of the World” focuses on the relationship between Eucharist and Mission. Recall the four key actions involved in the Eucharist; the bread and wine which become Christ’s body and blood are Taken, Blessed, Broken, and Given. “During the meal Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to his disciples” (Mt 26:26). These same four actions are reflected in our call to be Christ’s missionaries.

We—all Christians—are taken, chosen for service in the Church. We are selected, not because of our great importance or special abilities. God’s choice flows from his gracious love. Ask yourself: How has the Lord called me?

Next, we are blessed, enriched with many gifts (family, friends, community, baptism and faith). Again, all flows from the Lord’s generosity. Each of us has received so much; stop for a moment and count your blessings. Will we give as freely and generously as God has given to us (cf. Mt 10:8)?

Taken and blessed, we must now consent to be broken (the third Eucharistic action). Only when bread is broken can it be offered for the whole of humanity; we must be broken to be in compassionate solidarity with poor and suffering humanity. This is precisely the point made by Saint John Paul II: for its life the world needs broken bread (Christ and Christians).

Mother Teresa has said that when we truly recognize Christ broken for us in the Eucharist we will more easily recognize Christ in the broken bodies and lives of our suffering and poor neighbors. The pope asserts that “the Eucharist is not merely an expression of communion in the Church’s life; it is also a project of solidarity for all of humanity.”

The fourth element of becoming Eucharist is to be given. In the Eucharist Christ truly gives himself to us (Catholics affirm the “true presence” of Christ in the Eucharist). He becomes our food, satisfying our deepest hungers and needs. Now it is our turn to be broken and given, becoming food and life for others, becoming the “bread of Christ” for the world.

Have you ever seen your life as a continuous process of “Becoming Eucharist”? Whether one is a parent, worker, student or government employee, Christ takes, blesses, breaks and gives us—for the life of the world. Each day we are asked to surrender to this four-fold action. Are we comfortable with being chosen and blessed by Christ, but do we recoil when asked to be broken and given to others?

James H. Kroeger, MMThe mission message of Saint John Paul II notes that we, both individually and as communities, must respond with “fraternal solicitude to some of the many forms of poverty present in our world,” because “by our mutual love and, in particular, by our concern for those in need we will be recognized as true followers of Christ…. This will be the criterion by which the authenticity of our Eucharistic celebrations is judged.”

Catholics receive communion, the true body of Christ. Yes, we become the body of Christ, the Church. When we leave after Sunday Mass, are we a “true presence” of Christ in the world? Each baptized Christian is called to be a missionary, to be “bread broken and shared” for the life of the world. Receive the Eucharist. Become the Eucharist!

Source:, January 26, 2016
Fr. James H. Kroeger, MM, Living Mission, has recently published Walking in the Light of Faith and A Vatican II Journey: Fifty Milestones (ST PAULS – Manila).

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