A Review of Timothy O’Malley’s
Becoming Eucharistic People
by Savanna Balado
“In the Eucharist, we are taught how to love our neighbor because we are receiving Love Itself.”
A couple of months ago I had the privilege of diving into Timothy O’Malley’s thought provoking and convicting book “Becoming Eucharistic People” with some beautiful fellow parishioners who I now can confidently call dear friends. I say, “thought provoking” and “convicting” for a reason as I have never read something so simple yet so profound that often left me thinking thoughts such as, “well, duh this is truth” or “of course, this is the solution!” or even, “what has taken us so long to get here?”. Of course, if you went through the beautiful and most rigorous part of our Catholic faith journey, aka, catechism, you know that Jesus, present in the most Holy and Precious Eucharist, is the source and summit of our faith. For many of us, it has been ingrained into our minds at some point of our life whether it was in second grade First Communion prep, public school religion, or even adult formation.
Reading and meditating my way through O’Malley’s book, I must say that I have been missing out on one of the biggest truths of the Eucharist that I personally believe is one of the most important truths: THE EUCHARIST IS NOT FOR ME. Now, that may sound scandalous at first because well, of course the Eucharist is for me! I need the Eucharist, but I need the Eucharist in the exact same way that I need love. Hear me out.
Love, because really that is what everything is about, can only be authentic, real and just down right healing if it is not only received but given. Imagine a boomerang, when thrown correctly it always returns to the source of where it came from. Giving and receiving, those are the necessary components of true love. This is precisely what the Eucharist is, a total embodiment of perfect love, a gift, a person, THE PERSON OF OUR DREAMS! By receiving the Eucharist, we are actively responding to Jesus’ gift of overwhelming love and mercy that He can’t help but to so freely give away. This gift teaches us so much and is something we are all encouraged to receive as frequent as we can! However, it doesn’t stop there.
As O’Malley so beautifully says, as faithful Catholics “we are called to return this gift of love that we have received from the Eucharist to ALL”. The Eucharist reminds us that we are all worthy of sacrifice and redemption-Christ died for all. That we are all poor and in need of a Savior. That Christ lives in all of us and therefore we are called to love each other as such. The Eucharist moves us to a ministry of compassion-to receive Love then to give it away! To recognize the other and to willingly receive the other’s joys and sorrows. It is truly the ministry of our most Blessed Mother, the perfect conduit of this Love. For who better to teach us than the Immaculate Heart who bore the Life of Love Itself, and who never left the side of Her suffering Son during His passion. So, the question of our existence arises, “How do we become real Eucharistic people in a world that is thirsting for love and mercy? What do we do now?”
“This is all you have to do: bring them to Me in the Eucharist and let Me work.” These were the words Jesus spoke to Timothy O’Malley one evening during adoration at a youth retreat he was leading. First, we must simply realize that God our Father cannot help but adore us! He patiently waits with a burning desire to be consumed by our poor but redeemed hearts, particularly in His Eucharist! So, let us run to feed on His most Sacred Body as often as we can! Second, as the graces of the precious Body and Blood of Our Lord are LIMITLESS, we are called to extend these to, yes, everyone! A total integration of faith and life, the Eucharist can only come to fulfillment and become fully alive within us when we share Him with others! This Sacrament fully enables us to become Who we receive, Jesus Christ, for the life of the world.
Now, hopefully you have somewhat of a better understanding of my previous statement, why the Eucharist is not (just) for me. The Lord thirsts for as many souls as He has created. This gift of the Eucharist, of becoming true Eucharistic people looks a lot like what Thomas Merton says, “Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone-we find it with another.” This is the message of the Eucharist, to give away what has been received: LOVE. It is that simple! So, let’s allow our lives to proclaim a living encounter with our incarnate God to the point where our families, friends, and even strangers never leave our presence without feeling truly seen, heard, desired and loved! Let us run to the Father for mercy, compassion, forgiveness, for He will teach us to be merciful, compassionate, and forgiving. Let us beg our most beautiful Blessed Mother to gift us the wisdom to reverently receive our sacrificial Savior, just as She so perfectly did at the foot of the cross. Let us take this responsibility to transform every crack and crevice of the world into a space of divine love. To go even further, to INSPIRE in others a desire to fall in love with our Lord. So, there remains one last question, are you in Love?