Eucharistic Discipleship: Receiving Healing Part 3

Today I continue on the theme of eucharistic discipleship and the role of healing for entering into and attaining a more full, conscious, and active participation in the Mass. Last week, I spoke about the supreme healing, the resurrection of the dead, that is the final goal of all Jesus saving work. The Holy Eucharist Eucharistic Discipleship: Receiving Healing (Part 3) is we could say the seed of the resurrection that Jesus plants within us. Jesus says, Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. (Jn 6:54)

All the rest of Jesus’ healing work, whether the healing miracles that he wrought during his earthly life, or the healing he continues to accomplish through his Church, needs to be seen in the light of the supreme goal of the resurrection.

The ‘eternal life’ of which Jesus speaks in the passage above is the life of spiritual union with God that begins here and now through grace and is completed in heaven in the face to face vision of God himself. That life, however, is not complete, or is not fully enjoyed, until the whole person, body and soul, each in its own manner, is transformed in God. In the resurrection of the dead, the glory of vision of God overflows from the soul and transforms the body, making it to be radiant with divine glory, like Jesus himself in the transfiguration. Then God will be all in all. (cf. 1 Cor 15:28)

Though the Holy Eucharist nourishes the life of grace, the beginning of eternal life, within us, that life does not begin with the reception of the Holy Eucharist, but with baptism for the forgiveness of sins. (cf. Acts 2:38) We need to be healed of the wound of sin to share in the Holy Eucharist; the more we are healed of this wound, the more we are capable of sharing the gift.

The first, most fundamental, most radical wound that our nature received was the separation from God that was a result of Adam’s sin. The narrative of Genesis speaks of that separation in two ways: first, Adam and Eve hide from God amid the trees of the garden (Gen 3:8); second, more radical even, by their banishment from the garden they and their descendants are cut off from the tree of life, which we could say was the original source of nourishment for the life of grace. (Gen 3:22-24) Hiding themselves among the trees speaks of their awareness of the separation; being cut off from the tree of life speaks to the fact of that separation, whether they are aware of it or not, and also the impossibility of their being able to do anything on their own to remedy the situation.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, makes up for Adam’s disobedience by means of his obedience unto death on the Cross and so becomes the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him. (cf. Rm 5:15-21, Ph 2:8; He 5:9, 10:5-10) He shed his blood for the forgiveness of sins; He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. (cf. Mt 26:28, Jn 1:29)

The forgiveness of sins heals the radical wound of our separation from God and restores us to the life of grace; the forgiveness of sins provides us with a new and living way through the flesh of Christ, not into Eden, but into the heavenly sanctuary. (cf. Heb 10:19-22) Jesus’ Cross has become the new tree of life. The Holy Eucharist is the fruit of this new tree of life, but we gain access to the tree through baptism, whereby our hearts are sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water. (He 10:22)

The forgiveness of sins given to us in baptism heals us of the radical wound of separation from God that we call ‘original sin’ because it derived from Adam’s disobedience; for those who are baptized after they reach the age of reason and are able to answer for themselves, renouncing Satan and professing their faith in Jesus Christ, baptism also washes away all actual, personal sins.

Nevertheless, baptism leaves us with the inheritance of disordered desire (called “concupiscence”) that is a consequence of sin and leads back to sin; we are given a lifelong task of waging war against the disorder we find within ourselves, collaborating with the grace of Jesus Christ, and so seeking to submit ourselves freely, whole and entire to the reign of his grace.

For this reason Jesus has left his Church with two sacraments of healing: penance and the anointing of the sick. (To be continued)

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Fr. Joseph Levine graduated from Thomas Aquinas College and after a long journey was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Baker, Oregon. He currently serves as pastor of St. Peter Catholic Church in The Dalles on the Columbia River.

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