The Eucharist in the Church’s Dialogue with Religions

by Fr. Lito Jopson, CBCP ECSC, TV Maria

Cebu City, Jan. 29, 2016 – Quoting Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in his document Sacramentum Caritatis:“The greater is our love for the Eucharist, the more clearly will we recognize that the goal of all mission is to bring others to Christ.”

jalaThe presentation of Mumbai Archbishop Oswald Cardinal Gracias titled “The Eucharist in the Church’s Dialogue with Religions” was read by Shillong Archbishop Dominic Jala in the Catechesis of the 51st International Eucharistic Congress in Cebu City, Philippines.

“The presence of various religions poses enormous challenge to unity.  Hence, one of the essential task of Christianity is to be a witness to the values of the Kingdom of God by proclamation and dialogue,” said the Cardinal.

According to Cardinal Oswald, the jumping board for interreligious dialogue is the reality of food that is common among the religions.  This food translates to that which needs to be shared: the Good News of Jesus Christ.

“The Spirit’s presence and activity affect not only the individuals but also society and history, peoples, cultures and religions,” stressed the Cardinal.

Moreover, the Eucharist, through the death and resurrection of Jesus, otherwise known as the “pascal mystery” fosters reconciliation with people of every religion and culture.

“And as a community of believing persons, we reject every form of selfishness, sectarianism, casteism and individualism and build bridges of communion with every person, association, community, and nation. Our Asian reality is marked with cultural, religious, linguistic and ethnic pluralism. Hence our Eucharistic theology should help us respect these diverse groups and live with them in harmony and peace. It should also urge us to build bonds of solidarity with others,” said the Cardinal.

He explained that the celebration of the Eucharist is an invitation to us to a fuller communion with God and with one another.

Quoting Mane Nobiscum Domine, “The Eucharist is not merely an expression of communion in the Church’s life; it is also a project of solidarity for all of humanity.”

He described the Eucharist as an indestructible friendship between God and humanity.

“Just as Jesus gave his body and shed his blood for us, we are invited to break ourselves for others and live for others. Nourished by the body and blood of Christ, we must grow in awareness of the dignity and value of every person.”

He also addressed the issue of social justice and the Eucharist.

“Can we ensure that nobody in the community suffers from hunger, malnutrition, poverty? There is enough food in the world to feed everyone. However, the injustice lies in the improper distribution of food. In the words of St. Pope John Paul II “One of the greatest injustices in the contemporary world consists precisely in this: that the ones who possess much are relatively few and those who possess almost nothing are many. It is the injustice of the poor distribution of the goods and services originally intended for all.”

According to the Cardinal, denying people the right to food is a fundamental injustice.

Concluding his talk, there is a need to promote friendship and dialogue with people of other religions.

“They will work together in order to bring about a more just and peaceful society in which the poor will be the first to be served. Asia is the continent where the spiritual is held in high esteem and where the religious sense is deep and innate: the preservation of this precious heritage must be the common task of all”. (Reported by Fr. Lito Jopson, CBCP ECSC, TV Maria)