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The Great Jubilee, an intensely Eucharistic year

“The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” [1] The history of mankind has known the presence of God made man: a face, a body, feet that walked upon our earth, a heart that beat with love for all men and women. God, who is Love, has loved us to the extent of lowering himself to our level. To pay the ransom for our sins, he even chose to become one of us.

The Eucharist, renewed sacramentally in the sacrifice of the altar and reserved in the tabernacle, reveals the reality of the Redemption in history. As the Pope reminded us recently, “Christ, the one Lord, yesterday, today, and forever, wished to unite his saving presence in the world and in history to the sacrament of the Eucharist.” [2]

Precisely “to emphasize Christ’s living and salvific presence in the Church and in the world,” [3] the Pope convoked an international Eucharistic Congress, celebrated in Rome from the 18th to the 25th of June, in the middle of the Great Jubilee. The Eucharist must hold a privileged place in the celebration of the Holy Year. As the Pope has pointed out from the beginning, the Jubilee Year has to be “an intensely Eucharistic year.” [4] And thus, the acknowledgment of the real presence of the Word incarnate in the Eucharistic species should occupy a central place in the Christian’s life of faith. Jesus is really, truly, and substantially present in the Eucharist, so that we may speak to him, adore him, and receive him. In the words of Blessed Josemaria: “Devotion to the Holy Eucharist has to be our first devotion.” [5]

The Jubilee Year is calling us to rediscover what Love truly is, the charity that is patient and kind, that does not insist on its own way, that rejoices in the truth, that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. [6] St. Paul’s words are an invitation to be generous and faithful in our dedication to Christ. It is a lesson that we can learn in the school of the Eucharist. From the actual site where the Last Supper took place, the Holy Father has renewed his invitation to enter this school in which many “have found the consolation promised by Jesus” on the night of Holy Thursday. They have found “help to endure their sufferings, the food they need to once more take up their path after each moment of weakness, the interior energy to confirm their own choice of faithfulness.” [7]

The Eucharistic banquet, in which Christ’s death and resurrection are announced and celebrated in expectation of his coming, is “the center of the life of the Church.” [8] It is logical then that the Holy Father invites us to “turn frequently in our hearts to this Cenacle,” seeing ourselves, in a certain sense, as dwellers in that “house” in which Jesus instituted the Eucharist. Thus one will be able to say of us, “in respect to the Cenacle, what the psalmist said of the nations in respect to Jerusalem: ‘The Lord records as he registers the peoples, This one was born there’ (Ps 87[86]:6).” [9]

The Jubilee Year calls us to a new effort in the task of evangelization. Only a strong faith such as that demanded by the mystery of the Eucharist can convince other souls of the need to follow God. The Pope reminded us of this during the days of the Eucharist Congress. “The Church and all believers,” he said, “find in the Eucharist the indispensable strength to proclaim and give witness to all of the Gospel of salvation. The celebration of the Eucharist, the sacrament of the resurrection of the Lord, is in itself a missionary event, which introduces to the world, the fertile seed of a new life.” [10]

[1]Jn 1:14.

[2] John Paul II, Homily during Mass on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, June 22, 2000.

[3] John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Tertio Millennio Adveniente, November 10, 1994, no. 55.

[4]Ibid.

[5]Points from a meditation, June 14, 1960.

[6] Cf. 1 Cor 13:4-7.

[7] John Paul II, Letter to Priests on the Occasion of Holy Thursday, March 23, 2000, no. 14.

[8] Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1343.

[9] John Paul II, Letter to Priests on the Occasion of Holy Thursday, March 23, 2000, no. 3.

[10] John Paul II, Address to a general audience, June 21, 2000.

Romana, No. 30, January-June 2000, pag. 0.