Vinny Flynn provides a treasure chest you can draw from, again and again, for gems of insight on the Eucharist.
Photo: Felix Carroll
'It's Not Enough Just to Receive'
By Vinny Flynn
Divine Mercy Sunday, the great Feast of Mercy.
All over the world, untold thousands of us go to receive Communion in anticipation of the Lord's great promise of complete forgiveness of sins and punishment on that day (see Diary of St. Faustina, 300, 699, 1109).
But all too often, in our focus on the promise, we forget the reason for the promise, the reason for the feast, the reason for Communion itself. It's not enough just to receive.
Pope John Paul II made this very clear in his homily for the canonization of St. Faustina, April 30, 2000. "It is important," he said, "that we accept the whole message that comes to us ... on this Second Sunday of Easter. ... Christ has taught us that 'man not only receives and experiences the mercy of God, but is also called to practice mercy' towards others."
Readers of St. Faustina's Diary may recall how strongly Christ emphasized this:
I demand from you deeds of mercy. ... You are to show mercy to your neighbors always and everywhere. ... Yes, the first Sunday after Easter is the Feast of Mercy, but there must also be acts of mercy. ... Faith is of no avail without works" (Diary, 742).
Throughout the Diary, Christ's commands to us are filled with action verbs: ... proclaim ... do ... encourage ... trust ... tell ... pray ... glorify ... spread ... speak (see Diary, 301, 692, 965, 998, 1059, 1074, 1075, 1142, 1190, 1317, 1521, 1541, 1602, 1728).
What does all this have to do with receiving Communion? Everything.
In his last apostolic letter Mane Nobiscum Domine (Stay With Us, Lord), Pope John Paul II writes that after receiving Communion, "We cannot keep to ourselves the joy we have experienced." We must sense "the duty to be a missionary." "The dismissal at the end of each Mass," he explains, "is a charge given to Christians" to spread the Gospel and instill Christian values throughout society.
We are sent forth to live the Eucharist "in daily life, wherever people live and work ... in all of life's settings," bearing "forceful witness to God's presence in the world," the Holy Father wrote.
This doesn't mean that we need to search for grand projects that will help change the world. It means that in each aspect of our normal, everyday lives, we need to be reflections of Christ. When we leave the church after Mass, we're not supposed to leave Christ behind. We're supposed to take Him with us, and in us, into the world, allowing Him to live and love through us.
For me, the best reminder of this is The Divine Mercy image, which Christ told St. Faustina "is to be a reminder of the demands of My mercy" (Diary, 742). It's not enough to hang the image on a wall; we're supposed to become it. It's a great examen of conscience. In all that I do, is my right hand raised in blessing over the people I live and work with? Is my left always inviting others into my heart? Does Christ's love pour out from my heart upon everyone with whom I come into contact? Do I live in a way that clearly reflects trust in Christ? This is what The Divine Mercy image and the great gift of the Eucharist demand from us: to preach the Gospel message by living it.
How do we get the strength and courage and ability to do this? From Jesus, Himself, in the Eucharist. The Holy Father explains that the Eucharist is "a mode of being" which passes from Jesus into each of us and is meant to spread through us into our society and culture. The more we enter into Communion with Christ, at Mass, and through Eucharistic Adoration, the more Christ's own way of being, His own way of living, passes into us. We need to take on His values, His attitudes, His thoughts, His resolutions, so that we can go out and live like Him in the world. Then we, too, will fulfill the prophecy of our Lord to St. Faustina:
These rays of mercy will pass through you, just as they have passed through this Host, and they will go out through all the world (Diary, 441).