Taken from Bible Alive June 2021 Celebrating 25 years www.alivepublishing.co.uk
What is the source and summit of the Christian life? Is it feeding the poor and alleviating world poverty? Is it a holy life or the witness of a saint? Is it a life dedicated to self-sacrifice and service of others? The Christian life is many things and it is certainly all of these. However the source and summit of the Christian life is the gift of the Eucharist. It is this act of worship that reaches the very height, the very essence, the pinnacle of what the Christian life is. This is because the Christian life is Jesus Christ. In the Eucharist we receive Jesus and Jesus receives us. We consume him and he fills us. The Eucharist is food: food for this life and food for the next. We are a unity of body and soul. Just as food feeds our physical bodies, so the Eucharist feeds our souls.
As human beings we have profound needs: we need to know we are loved; we need to have meaning and purpose in our lives; we need to have hope in a destiny and future beyond the grave. The Eucharist answers these deep questions about human existence because the meaning of life is to know Jesus. In the Eucharist we meet him in the most real and authentic of ways. Unlike mountaineers who strive with every fibre of their being to reach the summit of towering peaks, we simply receive the Eucharists as a gift. We can’t earn it, we don’t deserve it: it is God’s greatest gift to us.
Our faith demands that we approach the Eucharist fully aware that we are approaching Christ himself. It is precisely his presence which gives the other aspects of the Eucharist – as meal, as memorial, as an anticipation of Christ’s return – a significance which goes far beyond mere symbolism. The Eucharist is a mystery of presence. In the Eucharist supremely we meet Christ himself. We commune with him, we take him into ourselves in the deepest way possible, we pray to him and we lay our life before him.
‘Each one individually and all of you together are united in one and the same faith in Jesus Christ … breaking one bread, which is the medicine of immortality, the antidote against death which gives eternal life in Jesus Christ.’ (St Irenaeus of Lyons)