The Eucharist, bread broken for the life of the world


"In the Cross, St Paul says, Christ broke down the wall of separation. In giving us his Body, he reunites us in this his Body to make us one. In the communion of the "Body of Christ" we all become one people, the People of God, in which - to cite St Paul again - all are one and there are no longer distinctions or differences between Greek and Jew, the circumcised and the uncircumcised, the barbarian, the Scythian, the slave, the Jew, but Christ is all and in all.

If it’s the Word that gathers the community, it’s the Eucharist that makes it one body: "because there is one bread - writes St Paul - we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread" (1 Cor 10: 17). The Church, therefore, is not the result of a sum of individuals but of unity among those who are nourished by the one Word of God and the one Bread of Life. We must become ever more aware of the reality that the Eucharist produces, namely the communion and unity of the Church; so too, when we receive Holy Communion, we must be ever more aware that we are entering into unity with Christ and thus ourselves becoming one. We must always learn more how to preserve and defend this unity from the rivalry, disputes, and jealousies that can be kindled in and among ecclesial communities.

The gift of his life that the crucified Lord made for us and for the whole world becomes sacramentally present in each celebration of the Eucharist. In the Eucharist, Jesus makes us witnesses of God's compassion towards all our brothers and sisters. The Eucharistic mystery thus gives rise to a service of charity towards our neighbour, which "consists in the very fact that, in God and with God, I love even the person whom I do not like or even know. This can only take place on the basis of an intimate encounter with God, an encounter which is able to move from being a communion of my will, to encompassing my feelings. Then I will learn to look on this other person not simply with my own eyes and feelings, but from the perspective of Jesus Christ." (240) In all those whom I meet, I will recognize brothers or sisters for whom the Lord gave his life, loving them "to the end" (Jn 13:1). Our communities, when they celebrate the Eucharist, must become ever more conscious that the sacrifice of Christ is for all, and that the Eucharist thus compels all who believe in Him to become "bread that is broken" for others, and to work for the building of a more just and fraternal world.

Benedict XVI