Cardinal Blase J. Cupich

The risen Jesus and Holy Communion

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

There is no getting around it. The Gospels are unequivocal and unanimous. The risen Lord appeared to his disciples with all of the wounds he suffered on the cross. Repeatedly, when he appears he shows them his hands and side and even invites them to touch the wounds there.

There was no magical healing, making him an invulnerable superman. Granted, there are artistic depictions that portray him as such, which serve as a commentary on how difficult it is to grasp the meaning of the Son of God taking on our flesh.

Jesuit Father Michael Buckley, a friend of happy memory, once observed that Jesus not only was unafraid to share in the weaknesses of our human condition, but actually valued them. This was because Jesus understood that human “weakness relates us profoundly with other people,” as Buckley remarked. “It allows us to feel with them the human condition, the human struggle and darkness and anguish that call out for salvation” (“Are you weak enough to be a priest?” an unpublished address of Buckley).

On the night before he died, Jesus revealed to his disciples how he perceived his human life, his bodily existence — a body broken for us, a blood shed for us. In offering himself as a sacrifice for us, Jesus passes through the terror and uncertainty of death and gives new life. Is this not the message of the Eucharist, as it can only be a source of grace for our lives if it is broken and shared?

We struggle with becoming Christ-like in this way. In our Western mindset, Father Buckley notes, “We do not authentically admit the cost in a struggle and almost never allow real fear to surface.” We disguise our humanness and vulnerability in spite of the fact that we all face the incompleteness and contingency of human life every day.

We worry about our future and our worth in a marketplace that exclusively values material gain and success. We trouble ourselves over how we will die and question life’s meaning. We are shaken by the sudden death of someone close to us and realize how fragile human life is when we hear of a deadly diagnosis of someone our age.

In the Eucharist, Jesus calls us to value our weak human condition. He calls us to a conversion that means turning away from an approach to human life that wants to pretend we are invulnerable, that we can secure our safety by isolating from those who might make demands on us. We are invited to say “amen” to a new way of living as we come forward to join in the Lord’s supper.

That response should give us pause and force us to reflect on what we are really declaring in saying “amen.” It means that we are willing to be bread for others, to be broken for others and to be consumed by others. It means leaving behind a life that tries to disguise our humanity. It means opening ourselves to embrace our weaknesses so that we can relate to others on the deep level of “feeling with them the human condition, the human struggle and darkness and anguish that call out for salvation.”

All of this serves as a helpful reminder why we call the Eucharist “Holy Communion.”



  • eucharist