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Broken For Us - A Reflection by Chris McDonnell


Bread Broken by Sr Mary Stephen from McCrimmons

Wednesday 25th June 2014.

A few days ago, we celebrated the feast of Corpus Christi, the feast of the brokenness and sharing of the Lord himself. It is a feast that has kept its Latin name through usage, the conciseness of the two words somehow suits the act of breaking of bread.

It is an action central to the Christian faith, the fulfilment at the time of Pasch, pre-figured in the Upper Room, shown to us on Calvary and in the Resurrection.

In the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, C. S. Lewis tells a similar story in allegorical form where Aslan, the Lion, challenges the perpetual Winter of Narnia and in the process is broken and apparently defeated, only to return in a mysterious way, victorious.

This food for our journey, the sustenance for our lives, this Bread is broken for us in the Eucharist, there for the taking, there for sharing.

It is at this time of the year that many young people receive this gift for the first time. We teach them, we prepare them, we pray with them, but what really is their perception of the significance of their action? We cannot say. We can only show by the faithfulness of our own need for the Eucharist that it is important to our lives and in this way encourage them to join us round the Table of the Lord.

And to do so out of need, not as a reward for our supposed goodness. Our lives have high points and low points, we move from successes to failures, from strong faith to hesitant doubt, from the brilliant light of day into the darkness of deepest night. The one constant is the broken body of Christ, our bread of life. We have only to ask, to make the first move, to stand with opened, upturned palms waiting for the gift that is Himself.

The image above 'Christ Breaks the Bread' (from Bread Broken Series pub. by McCrimmons) is a powerful representation of the sacrament, yet so simple in its substance, the broken loaf, broken by worn hands, the simple wooden platter on the table and the cup of wine by its side.

Just as we are called by our shared humanity to aid those displaced by war and famine, by fear and drought, so too we are called to take and share in the gift of Christ himself. One demands the other. In recent months, countless newscasts have shown families on crowded roads leaving their homes uncertain of their future, not knowing where they will spend the night or where they will eat their next meal. 

The forth-coming Synod on the Family must address the issue of sharing in the Eucharist for those whose marriage has failed on the way. Just at the time when the journey has got hard, we raise the bar and deny them the Eucharistic Christ in their brokenness. A Church whose members fall short of the highest ideals should demand compassion and inclusion for all in spite of their circumstances, or even more, because of them.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) writing in 2013 said that "In the face of the sin and injustice we see present in our communities and in our world, the Eucharist "plants a seed of living hope in our daily commitment to the work before us," challenging us to live "Eucharistic" lives. It affirms our role as citizens and as men and women in various professions at different levels of society in "contributing with the light of the Gospel to the building of a more human world, a world fully in harmony with God's plan"

The breaking of bread is an action that changes lives as we share with each other our faith in the Lord. Take, eat, He has been broken for you.


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