God’s Remedy for Our Selfishness

The Eucharist is God’s remedy for our selfishness today.

“For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes.”

Two things are clear about Jesus from the episode of the multiplication of the loaves in Luke’s Gospel account.

First, Jesus is truly generous. He takes the initiative to reveal and introduce His audience into His heavenly kingdom, “He spoke to the crowd about the kingdom of God.” He then takes the first step to heal all who were sick, “He healed those who needed to be cured.” Lastly, He refused to send the crowd away but chose to feed and satisfy five thousand men: “They all ate and were satisfied.”

Second, Jesus is not wasteful. After generously providing them bread and fish, He collects and measures the leftover, “And when the leftover fragments were picked up, they filled twelve wicker baskets.” St. John explains why Jesus picked up the leftover, “He told His disciples, ‘Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost’”(Jn 6:12). Jesus does not want anything that He has given to us to be lost but to be used well for the purpose that He gave it to us.

This miracle of the multiplication of the loaves foreshadows the Holy Eucharist, where we have the climax of Christ’s generosity to us. It is in the Eucharist that Jesus offers us the complete gift of Himself in His incarnate state – body, blood, soul, and divinity. It is only in the Eucharist that He makes present again in sacramental signs His sacrifice on Calvary with all its life-giving power. It is also in the Eucharist that He offers to us all the graces that He merited for us. There is no greater generosity of Jesus towards us today than the Holy Eucharist.

Jesus shows the height of His generosity to us by giving Himself to us in the Eucharist at the most painful moment of His life, “I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night He was handed over, took bread, and after He had given thanks, broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you…This cup is the new covenant in my blood” (See 1Cor 11:23-26). Nothing can stop Him from being generous with us, from giving Himself to us, not even his impending suffering and death.

He also does not want us to waste any grace that He bestows on us in the Eucharist. He wants us to use these graces to witness His own generous love for us until the very end of our lives, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes.” In giving us Himself in the Eucharist, Jesus also demands that we too be generous in making use of these graces in all things for His sake until the very end, just as He was generous in all things for our sake. This is why we are called and graced in this sacrament, “For you have been called for this purpose, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you would follow in His footsteps” (1 Peter 2:21).

Whatever we are doing – praying, serving others, fulfilling our daily duties, loving and forgiving others, telling the truth, repenting from our sins, fighting temptation, resisting evil in ourselves and in the world, enduring suffering and pain, etc., – we must do it with a truly generous spirit and for Christ’s sake. Every grace from the Eucharist is given to us for a particular purpose ordained by God – to live for Christ and to spread His kingdom of light in this evil world. We have access to this grace for generous living only because “God has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Col 1:13). We waste His graces when we do not use them as He wants us to use them.

One evident example of wasting the grace of God today is a growing acceptance, promotion, and celebration of homosexual activities, even from within the Church. We have Gay Pride parades in the month of June, traditionally a month devoted to the generous and self-sacrificing love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. We have drag queen shows in our schools, exposing the innocent minds of our children to warped sexuality. Many parents lack the basic moral sensitivity to protect the mind and hearts of their wards from this sexual perversion. Many of our perverted clergy either promote this lifestyle or keep silent.

Why are we now getting used to celebrating the evil of homosexual acts? Why do we now call evil good? How can we claim to be proud of something that we know is contrary to both divine revelation and human nature? Why is there a deafening silence in the Church or even a tacit approval?

The first reason is that we too have been caught up in the current of unbridled selfishness of our times. This selfishness is manifested by an exclusive focus on what we can gain now for ourselves. Its focus is on feeling good now at all costs, even if the conscience is violated. It seeks license to do our own thing no matter God’s demands or what others genuinely need. It dreads speaking the truth out of fear of displeasing others, earning their wrath, or being called names.

The second and most important reason is that we have simply forgotten the power of sacramental grace for authentic human sexuality. Christian sexuality demands great generosity on our part because it is a participation in Christ’s own generous, selfless, and life-giving love for our sake, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her” (Eph 5:25). Because of our bodily union with Christ in the Eucharist, we too can freely and completely make a gift of ourselves for others for His sake.

By uniting ourselves to our Eucharistic Lord, we experience and participate in His generous love for us. We realize that there is no limit to His mercy for souls, especially souls that suffer from intrinsically disordered inclinations of homosexuality. We experience the power of His precious blood to wash us clean from all sin and bring us inner freedom and renewed hope.

Our union with His own flesh in the Eucharist strengthens us for fidelity in the struggles ahead. Our Communion with Him allows us to share in His own courage and perseverance so that we never give up in our struggles with sinful tendencies. With the Eucharist as our God-given remedy and antidote for selfishness, we know that we will surely prevail in the end if only we do not “receive the grace of God in vain” (2Cor 6:1).

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, only souls that are truly generous for Christ’s sake in all things will enter into His kingdom of light. On Judgment Day, we will stand before Him and account for all the graces of each sacrament we have received through His generosity to us. Why must we give account for each grace? Because Jesus is always generous but not wasteful.

As we receive Him again on this Solemnity of Corpus Christi, let us remember His words to us, “To whom much is given, much is also expected” (Lk 12:48). In the Eucharist, we Catholics are privileged recipients of the amazing gift of Christ Himself on this side of heaven. A lot more is expected from us. We cannot just blend in the crowd with others. We also cannot allow the selfish kingdom of darkness to prevail over us despite receiving the Eucharistic graces of the kingdom of light.  

Let us turn to Mother Mary, who was “full of grace,”(Lk 1:28) and also generously used that grace to the end in bearing witness to Christ, even if it meant standing at the foot of the cross on Calvary. May she help us to make generous use of each and every grace of each Eucharist in all things for the sake of Christ without wasting these graces. If we do so all the days of our lives, we shall one day be one with Him in His own glorious kingdom of light.

Glory to Jesus! Honor to Mary!

Image: Stained glass window in St.Sulpice church (Fougeres, France), depicting a biblical scene:miracle of Jesus Christ by feeding a crowd of 5.000 with just five loaves of bread and two small fish. Shutterstock/Tiberiu Stan.

By

Fr. Nnamdi Moneme OMV is a Roman Catholic Priest of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary currently on missionary assignment in the Philippines. He serves in the Congregations' Retreat Ministry and in the House of Formation for novices and theologians in Antipolo, Philippines. He blogs at  www.toquenchhisthirst.wordpress.com.

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