This morning, I was at a talk given by Jen and Brian Suehs-Vassel entitled: “The Fruits of Eucharistic Celebration.” The talk was part of the Center for Liturgy’s Summer Symposium, “The Eucharist: Become What You Receive, Receive What You Are.” Using the wonderful imagery of the disciples encountering Christ on the road to Emmaus and this leading them to return to Jerusalem out of love, they asked if we are Christbearers in our own lives. Do we bear Christ to the world with love?
It was an excellent talk, and as often happens, it connected with something I read recently in a book on Catholic giving that Bishop McManus co-wrote in 1987. It was background reading for a report on Catholic giving that I am working on, and at the end of the book, Bishop McManus highlights a conversation he had with a Protestant minister that struck him because the Protestant minister showed an awareness of the reciprocity inherent in the sacrament of Eucharist that many Catholics miss. Here is the excerpt:
“At the end of our conversation, Reverend Murphy gently remarked, ‘I long have wondered why Roman Catholics haven’t associated their stewardship with the Eucharist. It has surprised me to hear Catholic priests speak about ‘taking up a collection’ at Mass. In the Roman Catholic tradition, Eucharist is central and celebrated often, several times every Sunday. Giving to the Lord and receiving from the Lord–or the other way around–this reciprocity, this exchange of gifts, is at the heart of the Eucharist.’
I [Bishop McManus] gulped and thanked him.”
Receiving and giving…an economy of gift. This is what Eucharist calls us to…
“Do we bear Christ to the poor?” Quoting St. John of Chrysostom, Jen and Brian noted how this holy man viewed his giving to the poor as a small means of giving back to Christ for the gift that Christ gave of himself each day in the Eucharist. This is one of the fruits of Eucharistic celebration– commitment to the poor. Not out of a sense of duty, but out of love and thanksgiving that we are able to give, as we have been given.