Dearest friends, I have just returned from a retreat, a very wonderful experience of having to leave the daily activities of this world and our daily struggles to be alone with God, to ask ourselves certain questions and to make resolutions on how we are going to forge ahead in our journey to become saints, to become holy, which is precisely the will of God for us. We all should really try it once in a while, to retreat and be with our Lord in prayer and having to hear him speak to us.
Also in this season of Easter, we have just celebrated the Ascension of our Lord which is a very remarkable time for us. Christ has gone to be with his Father where He is seated at his right hand. Is he no longer with us? We know that precisely he goes so that he can send us the Holy Spirit, which we will be celebrating in a few days time. But while at the retreat, during the meditations, there was something that struck me. Before now we have at one time or the other in our previous discussions mentioned the encounter of the two disciples, Cleopas and his friend on their way to Emmaus, with Jesus. From verse 28 we read that as Jesus made to go, they told him, ‘Stay with us…’. And Jesus entered their home and revealed himself to them in the breaking of the bread.
Yes, it is true that Our Lord has ascended into heaven but he also remains with us. In fact he wants to stay with us more than we want him to. And this is why he has left us the Eucharist. Despite the ascension Jesus stays with us and has chosen to stay with us in order to reveal himself to us, in order to commune with us, in order that we may abide in him and we in him. He stays with us in the Eucharist to increase our Faith, to heal us and give us strength to face the struggles and troubles of the world.
A friend of mine told me, ‘No! Jesus is in my heart’, when I tried to explain the Eucharist to him as the real presence of our Lord. To that I replied yes he is, he is precisely present to us in lots of ways, I mean, as God he is everywhere. But in the Eucharist he is present to us in a unique manner, I explained to him what Fulton Sheen, the venerable taught me, that it is precisely out of a deep love for us that Jesus is not just content with living in our hearts, he wants to enjoy with us the three intimacies of love, which are sight, touch and hearing. Jesus wants us to see him with our eyes, to touch him with our bodies, and to hear us and we hear him. That for us makes a lot of difference because we are human, body and soul, he does not only want us to have him in our souls, he also want us to touch him in our bodies, such that we are more conscious of a real presence, we are more conscious that he is precisely staying with us. That way we can gaze at him in the Sanctuary to see his strength and his glory. Love grows more when we are able to see the one we love, and to touch the one we love.
Also in the Eucharist, and precisely through the reception Christ through our bodies, he fuels and feeds his presence in our hearts, such that every moment we receive him is like another encounter with the Lord where he comes to fill us with his presence, his life and his love. This way, he becomes the food of our souls, feeding our souls with life, the life of grace, eternal life, the life of God. The Eucharist becomes for us a fountain, from where we draw grace, and life.
My brothers and sisters, Jesus stays with us. Like he stayed with the disciples at Emmaus in the breaking of the bread, he stays with us today in the breaking of bread, at each Mass, there, we come to heaven, we come to a well-spring, we come to draw life, we come to a communion of Love.
From your friend and brother: Chibuzor F. Ogamba