Building a more just and fraternal society - The Catholic
Weekly, 30 January 2005, p11 by members
of the community of St Vincent's, Redfern
There is surely no more powerful reflection
on the authentic meaning of the Eucharist than in the recent
letter Mane nobiscum domine of Pope John Paul II.
There is one other point
which I would like to emphasise, since it significantly affects
the authenticity of our communal sharing in the Eucharist.
It is the impulse which the
Eucharist gives to the community for a practical commitment
to building a more just and fraternal society.
In the Eucharist our God
has shown love in the extreme, overturning all those criteria
of power which too often govern human relations and radically
affirming the criterion of service: “If anyone would be first,
he must be last of all and servant of all” (Mk 9:35).
It is not by chance that
the gospel of St John contains no account of the institution
of the Eucharist, but instead relates the “washing of the
feet” (cf Jn 13: 1–20); by bending down to wash the feet of
his disciples, Jesus explains the meaning of the Eucharist
St Paul vigorously affirms
the impropriety of a Eucharistic celebration lacking charity
expressed by practical sharing with the poor (cf I Cor. 11:
As related in Living the
Eucharist (Letters CW January
9), the community at St Vincent’s Redfern is privileged to
experience this ecclesial dimension weekly at the “Sharing
of the Meal”. The celebration of the Eucharist at the altar
is concretised in the sharing of food with the most disadvantaged
in our community.
Both the giver and the receiver
are nourished by this face-to-face act of loving service.
Pope John Paul II goes on
to say: “Can we not make this Year of the Eucharist an occasion
for diocesan and parish communities to commit themselves in
a particular way to responding with fraternal solicitude to
one of the many forms of poverty present in our world?
“I think, for example, of
the tragedy of hunger which plagues hundreds of millions of
human beings, the diseases which afflict developing countries,
the loneliness of the elderly, the hardships faced by the
struggles of immigrants.
“These are evils which are
present – albeit to a different degree – even in areas of
immense wealth. We cannot delude ourselves: by our mutual
love and, in particular, by our concern for those in need
we will be recognised as true followers of Christ (cf John
13:35; Mt 25: 31–46).
“This will be the criterion
by which the authenticity of our Eucharistic celebrations
The recent tsunami tragedy
is challenging the whole human family and especially Christian
communities to a truly Eucharistic response.