Sacrament Matters: Christmas and the Eucharist

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Sacrament Matters: Christmas and the Eucharist

Dr. Christine E. Wood, Director of the Office of Evangelisation & Catechesis

The message of the angel on Christmas night is for all of us: “To you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord” (Lk 2:11). This message cannot leave us indifferent. It calls for a response from us. The only real response is to follow the shepherds to Bethlehem to see this mystery set before us, a mystery that now dwells in our world, changing everything. God is no longer a distant God, but now he dwells among us.

In becoming flesh, God has crossed the boundary into our sinful world. The shepherds hurried across to see this babe in Bethlehem. We too must go across to meet the newborn Christ-child. There must be a transition in our lives: we cross from our materialistic world, often governed by consumerism in this Christmas season, to enter into the real world where God has entered and dwells with his people.
Where do we find this newborn Saviour today? We find him spiritually where there is love and peace in the world, in suffering of the poor and refugees, but most especially we encounter him personally present in the Eucharist.
God became small and vulnerable as a child in the manger in Bethlehem. He allowed his Mother Mary to carry and nurse him, and his foster-father Joseph to teach and defend him.

Christ also becomes little for us today. His divine glory is hidden from us in the Eucharist so that without fear we can welcome him into our souls in Holy Communion, to dwell with him in adoration, and to whisper to him the deepest desires of our hearts.

Just as Christ came to Bethlehem more than 2000 years ago, he continues to come to us today in the Eucharist. The shepherds heard the good news of Christ’s birth and immediately went to see him. How do we respond? Do we hurry to encounter Christ in the Eucharist, to sit with him and ponder the mystery of God becoming man? Or do we neglect him by our busyness, our constant distractions with mobile devices, sports, Netflix, or just our incessant day-to-day activities?

This Advent season why not prepare our souls well for the coming of the Saviour? It’s the Catholic custom to prepare spiritually in prayer and by receiving the sacrament of reconciliation. Let’s renew our spiritual home - the ‘manger’ of our souls – to receive the long-awaited Messiah in the Eucharist this Christmas.