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Eucharist: A Precious Spiritual Jewel

Fr. James Kroeger


Year of Eucharist and Family’ Reflections


CARDINAL Charles Maung Bo, Papal Legate to the Eucharistic Congress in Cebu, presented an enriching reflection on the Eucharist in his homily at the opening Mass on January 24, 2016, an event that attracted 350,000 participants.  One of the many images the Cardinal used to describe the Eucharist was that of a multi-faceted jewel.


Noting that the previous International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) held in the Philippines was in 1937 (79 years ago), Cardinal Bo described the Philippines as a “great land of faith.”  He recalled the many recent calamities the country faced; he addressed Filipinos directly, telling them “you have proved your resilience, your faith, rising from all challenges.”  Draw your strength from the Eucharist!

Only through such an “intense faith encounter with Jesus” in the Eucharist can Christians “feel the presence of God in our brothers and sisters.”  The Eucharist remains “a major challenge to the whole of humanity.”  Cardinal Bo invited all to a deepened appreciation of the Eucharist, God’s gift, a “treasure of faith,” a precious “spiritual jewel”!


Social Involvement.  Cardinal Bo spoke forcefully about the relationship between the Eucharist and social commitment.  He noted that we are to be more than devotees of the Eucharist; “Christ is calling us to be disciples….  The Mass of the devotee ends in an hour, but the Mass of the disciple is unending.  The Eucharist of the devotee is confined to the clean, decorated altars of the church.  The Eucharist of the disciple continues with the streets as altar.”


The Cardinal recalled that Mother Teresa advised her sisters: “The love for the Eucharist helps us to love the poor.  Be the love, the compassion, the presence to the poor.”


Dedicated Commitment.     Cardinal Bo challenged participants to put their faith into concrete actions.  Christianity offers “a new vision of humanity through Eucharist.  Before the Passover meal, Christ offered an example of service, washing the feet of his disciples….  The Eucharist remains a sign of hope for humanity.”


“Let this congress set in motion a movement for reconciliation.  The Eucharist is always preceded by reconciliation….  This unity and reconciliation needs to start with our families and communities, among religions….  Peace is the bread that the Catholic community waits to share with all communities.”


Message to IEC from Pope Francis.  “Dear friends, may this Eucharistic Congress strengthen you in your love of Christ present in the Eucharist….  There are two gestures of Jesus at the Last Supper which I would ask you to reflect on.  Both have to do with the missionary dimension of the Eucharist.  They are table fellowship and the washing of the feet.”


“We know how important it was for Jesus to share meals with his disciples, but also, and especially, with sinners and the outcast.  Sitting at table, Jesus was able to listen to others, to hear their stories, to appreciate their hopes and aspirations, and to speak to them of the Father’s love.  At each Eucharist, the table of the Lord’s Supper, we should be inspired to follow his example.”

“The other image which the Lord offers us at the Last Supper is the washing of feet.  On the eve of his passion, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples as a sign of humble service….  The Eucharist is a school of humble service.  It teaches us readiness to be there for others.  This too is at the heart of missionary discipleship.”

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