From a Creighton Student's Perspective
May 3, 2012
Senior, Biology Major
In this letter, Paul urges his readers to “hold fast” to the Gospel shared with them. Paul recaps Jesus’ death on the cross, and then he puts special emphasis on the fact that Jesus appeared to so many people after his rising. Paul even humbly states, “Last of all, as to one born abnormally, he appeared to me.”
Given that we are living out the Easter weeks, this passage couldn’t be more perfect. I think Paul is reminding us of the importance of why Jesus died on the cross, bringing attention to the fact that Jesus rose and appeared to us. Why would he do this? To teach us to continue his mission on earth, and to unify us to actively participate in the Eucharist. Now, I don’t know about you, but I have always struggled with this phrase. What does it mean to “actively participate in the Eucharist?” Nothing I’ve heard regarding this question has really ever hit home, but over the past Lenten season, the words of Fr. Joseph Nangle made things a little clearer for me, and I’d like to share them.
In his book, Engaged Spirituality (which I recommend reading), Fr. Joe describes the Eucharist as being something subversive that we all are called to participate in. Subversive is used in the sense of undermining the power of an authority; the authority being social and structural evil that tempts us everyday: racism, poverty, and extreme inequality to name a few. These are all things that Jesus fought against in his mission. Nangle explains:
What I mean is that we are participants, not just spectators; at Eucharist we truly become actors in Christ’s saving death and resurrection. That means when we share in the Lord’s Supper we are a continuation or an extension of what his death and resurrection accomplished: overthrowing, undermining, subverting everything that stands in the way of full human liberation…The Lord’s Supper, then, is a consolation and a challenge. It is not a tranquilizer. It’s subversive.
These powerful words, I believe, hit perfectly on what St. Paul is preaching: Jesus’ dying and rising shouldn’t be something taken lightly. For me, this has been a realization that I need to regard receiving the Eucharist as something fiery, something that asks me to recall why Jesus died on the cross, and then calls me to action; an action against the evil and injustices in the world. As Fr. Nangle states, “The Eucharist demands that everyone who dares to celebrate it do what it signifies—overcome, combat, subvert every form of sin and evil.” In this way, like Jesus appeared to his disciples, he appears to us every time we celebrate his death and rising in the Eucharist. For me (forgive me for the pun), it’s being passionate about the Passion that makes my faith feel much stronger.
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