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Being witnesses to the Eucharist

on Tuesday, 01 July 2008. Posted in 2008 Eucharistic congress

On Saturday morning, June 21, the catechesis was given by Cardinal Christian Wiyghan Tumi, Archbishop of Douala, Cameroon, with the theme: "Being witnesses to the Eucharist in the heart of the world." Here are some excerpts:

Cardinal Christian Wiyghan Tumi"The Eucharist does have a social dimension… that brings about practical commitments in society. Several recent declarations of the Magisterium of the Church remind us of this necessary linkage between the Eucharist and social ethics. This quotation from the Message of the eleventh Synod of Bishops that was held in Rome on October 2005 is echoing this concern.

"‘Before the Lord of history and the future of the world, the poor of every generation and today, the ever-increasing number of victims of injustice, and all the forgotten of this world, challenge us. These sufferings cannot remain extraneous to the celebration of the Eucharistic Mystery which summons all of us to work for justice and the transformation of the world in an active and conscious fashion, on the basis of the social doctrine of the Church that promotes the centrality and the dignity of the human person.’

"One cannot transform the world if we are not ourselves transformed. Recently, in the Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis, our Holy Father Benedict XVI wrote (n. 89):

"‘The union with Christ brought about by the Eucharist also brings a newness to our social relations: this sacramental ‘mysticism’ is social in character. Indeed, union with Christ is also union with all those to whom he gives himself. I cannot possess Christ just for myself; I can belong to him only in union with all those who have become, or who will become, his own. The relationship between the eucharistic mystery and social commitment must be made explicit.’

"The Eucharist is a sacrament of communion. The fact that we receive the body of Christ makes us communion, thinking about the other. We truly become brothers and sisters. The Pope continues in his Exhortation: ‘The Eucharist is the sacrament of communion between brothers and sisters who allow themselves to be reconciled in Christ, who made of Jews and pagans one people, tearing down the wall of hostility which divided them (cf. Eph 2:14). Only this constant impulse towards reconciliation enables us to partake worthily of the Body and Blood of Christ (cf. Mt 5:23-24).’ If you are excluding the others from your love, you cannot receive Holy Communion in a valid way.

"The Exhortation continues: ‘In the memorial of his sacrifice, the Lord strengthens our fraternal communion and, in a particular way, urges those in conflict to hasten their reconciliation by opening themselves to dialogue and a commitment to justice. Certainly, the restoration of justice, reconciliation and forgiveness are the conditions for building true peace. The recognition of this fact leads to a determination to transform unjust structures and to restore respect for the dignity of all men and women, created in God’s image and likeness. Through the concrete fulfilment of this responsibility, the Eucharist becomes in life what it signifies in its celebration. As I have had occasion to say, it is not the proper task of the Church to engage in the political work of bringing about the most just society possible; nonetheless she cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the struggle for justice. The Church "has to play her part through rational argument and she has to reawaken the spiritual energy without which justice, which always demands sacrifice, cannot prevail and prosper.’

Without God, one cannot do anything

"What the world needs is what I would call a global spirituality. Without the spiritual dimension, the world cannot do anything. Without God, the world cannot do anything. The exhortation goes on: ‘In discussing the social responsibility of all Christians, the Synod Fathers noted that the sacrifice of Christ is a mystery of liberation that constantly and insistently challenges us. I therefore urge all the faithful to be true promoters of peace and justice: All who partake of the Eucharist must commit themselves to peacemaking in our world scarred by violence and war, and today in particular, by terrorism, economic corruption and sexual exploitation.’ (...)

"The Eucharist can only be understood as passion for man, and a passion for God written in the soul of each person. The Eucharist, by making us partake of the Body of the Risen One, by giving us His Life, and burning us with the fire of the Holy Spirit, can do nothing but to communicate to us the same feelings that Christ has for man and for God: it can only make us have a passion for man, and allow me to put it that way, it can only make us God’s fools, people who are crazy bout God.

"The scandal would be for the Eucharist to make us wretches or atrophied people. Its truth, in today’s world, is to make us passionate with love, full of love... What is love, from a specific Catholic viewpoint? It is to love those who don’t love you. As a Christian, I must love the other person in order to be in the image of our Master, who loved even those who killed Him. In a noble sense, the person who loves becomes dangerous, because this person could love to the end, as Jesus who said, ‘Love one another as I loved you’, who loved us to the point of giving up His life for us.

"In that respect, the Eucharistic person is a dangerous person, burning from the fire of the Spirit, and whose only purpose is to extend that fire and to become fire for others. This person is a person of daring, of confrontation, of radicalism, and of the absolute.

"What is lacking in the world today is love. If love becomes humanity’s soul, there would be no wars, no terrorism in Afghanistan, no war in Iraq, no political leaders who want to remain in power at all cost. A person of the Eucharist who loves disturbs everybody, might even give them the feeling of a bad conscience. That is our vocation as witness to the Gospel, so that the other person knows how to distinguish evil from good.

"We must be Christian on a daily basis. We cannot be witnesses to the Eucharist in the heart of the world without carrying within us an anguish for the poor, for those who are not well loved, without being open to all of love, thinking of each human being as Christ is in each person and each person is in Christ. Thank you."