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ON THE EUCHARIST: Summon the community together

At the source of our Sunday Eucharist stands God's summons, God's convoking us as his people. That is a tough one for us today, that notion of assembling, of coming together. We tend to have individualized or personalized our Christian faith so much that we have difficulty recognizing that essential feature of our faith which makes us accept the implications of our faith being a communal faith.

The Christian faith is a communal faith. What does that mean? The purpose of God's sending his Son is not only to "save individual souls", but also to bring all together in Jesus Christ. He came to gather all. Our coming together on Sunday for Eucharist thus serves as a sign of the realization of bringing all together in Jesus Christ. You could say that in our coming together we jump the gun on what is the ultimate purpose of Christ's mission. Here is a portion of the people gathered by Jesus Christ.

Unfortunately, that aspect of our Christian faith is very weak in many of our contemporaries. We are so imbued with the spirit of our culture that emphasizes the personal or individual at the expense of the communal. This then gets expressed in the line so often heard "I don't need to go to church; I can live a decent Christian life very well without it." A line like that says a lot. And it is hard to argue with it, because it displays the loss of what it means to be Christian with others.

Mind you, we are not the first generation of Christians to have difficulty with that aspect of the Christian faith. There is a third-century document which addressed the same problem: "Whenever you are teaching, command and exhort the people to be faithful to the assembly of the church. Let them not fail to attend, but let them gather faithful together. Let no one deprive the Church by staying away; if they do, they deprive the body of Christ of one of its members! For you must not think only of others but of yourself as well, when you hear the words that our Lord spoke: "Who does not gather with me, scatters: (Mt 12:30). Since you are the members of Christ, you must not scatter yourselves outside the Church by failing to assemble there. For we have Christ for our Head, as he himself promised and announced, so that "You have become sharers with us." Do not, then, make light of your own selves, do not deprive our Saviour of his members, do not rend, do not scatter his Body."


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