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Mother Teresa on This is the Lamb of God
The following passages are taken from the book, “A Life for God,” compiled by LaVonne Neff and published in 1995.
When the priest invites the worshipers to come forward to receive the Bread of Life, he says the words of John the Baptist, the prophet who prepared the way for Jesus: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29, RSV). The people who heard John the Baptist knew that a lamb was an animal used as a sacrifice. The Eucharist is a thanksgiving for Christ’s sacrifice on the cross so that the world might be saved.
The Priest also says words recorded in the Book of Revelation (19:9): “Blessed are those who have been called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” The sacrificed Lamb is risen from the dead and reigns with God in heaven. The priest invites those who love Jesus to join in the celebration.
Before entering into communion with Christ in the Eucharist, the worshippers acknowledge that it is God’s grace and not their own that allows them to come to him. The words “Lord, I am not worthy. . .” come from a beautiful story found in the Gospel of Luke 7:6-7. A Roman army officer used similar words to beg Jesus to a dying Slave. Jesus healed the slave and praised the officer for his faith. The same way, Jesus responds to everyone who comes to
Him and asks to be made whole. This is a wonderful reason for Eucharist, for thanksgiving!
Priest: This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Happy are those who are called to his supper
People: Lord I am not worthy to receive You, but only say the word and I will be healed.
This is the Lamb of God
who takes away the sins of the world.
Happy are those who are called to his supper.
1. The Eucharist is the sacrament of prayer, the fountain and summit of Christian life. Our Eucharist is incomplete if it does not lead us to service and love for the poor. As we receive the communion of the poor, we discover our own poverty. (178)
2. Our life is linked to the Eucharist. Through faith in and love of the body of Christ under the appearance of bread, we take Christ literally: “I was hungry and you gave me food. I was a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me.” (178)
3. Put your sins in the chalice for the Precious Blood to wash away. One drop is capable of washing away all the sins of the world. (178)
4. We need the Eucharist because Jesus has become the Bread of Life in order to meet our desires, our longings, our love for him. This is why our life needs to be closely linked to the Eucharist. We begin our day with the holy Mass and Communion, and we finish the day with an hour of adoration, which unites us with Jesus and with the poor in whom we offer our services. (178)
5. Let us stop for a moment to think about the tenderness of God’s love for us. There are thousands of people who would love to have what you have. And yet God has chosen you to be where you are today to share the joy of loving others.
To make this love more real, more loving, more living, he gives himself as the Bread of Life. He gives us his own life. He wants us to love one another, to give ourselves to each other until it hurts. It does not matter how much we give, but how much love we put into our giving.
In the Constitution of the Missionaries of Charity, we have a beautiful part which speaks of the tenderness of Christ, and also of his faithful friendship and love. To make that love more living, more sure, more tender, Jesus gives us the Eucharist. This is why it is necessary for every Missionary of Charity to feed upon the Eucharist in order to be a true carrier of God’s love. She must live on the Eucharist and have her heart and life woven with the Eucharist. No Missionary of Charity can give Jesus if she does not have Jesus in her heart. (178)
6. Someone could ask, “Who are the poorest of the poor?” They are the unwanted, the unloved, the uncared for, the hungry, the forgotten, the naked, the homeless, the lepers, the alcoholics. But also we Missionaries of Charity are the poorest of the poor.
To be able to do what we do, and live the kind of life we live, every Missionary of Charity has to have her life united with the Eucharist. In the Eucharist, we see Christ in the appearance of bread. Then in the poor, we see Christ in a distressing disguise. The Eucharist and the poor are but one love.
To be able to work, to be able to see, to be able to love, we need this Eucharistic union. (179)
7. As Missionaries of Charity we are especially called upon to see Christ in the appearance of bread and to touch him in the broken bodies of the poor.
When He took bread, Christ said: “Take and eat, this is my body delivered for you.” By giving himself, he invites us to grow in the power of his love to do what he has done.
Christ’s love for us will give us strength and urge us to spend ourselves for him. “Let the sisters and the people eat you up.” We have no right to refuse our life to others in whom we contact Christ. (179)
8. We cannot separate our lives from the Eucharist; the moment we do, something breaks. People ask, “Where do the sisters get the joy and energy to do what they are doing?”
The Eucharist involves more than just receiving; it also involves satisfying the hunger of Christ. He says, “Come to me.” He is hungry for souls. Nowhere does the Gospel say “Go away,” but always “Come to me.”
Our lives must be woven around the Eucharist. Ask Jesus to be with you, to work with you that you may be able to pray the work. You must really be sure that you have received Jesus. After that, you cannot give your tongue, your thoughts, or your heart to bitterness. (180)
9. The Eucharist is connected with the passion. If Jesus had not established the Eucharist we would have forgotten the crucifixion. It would have faded into the past and we would have forgotten that Jesus loved us.
There is a saying that to be far away from the eyes is to be far away from the heart. To make sure that we do not forget, Jesus gave us the Eucharist as a memorial of his love. To make sure that we keep on loving him, he gives us his hunger (to satisfy our hunger for him)--—he gives us the poorest of the poor.
We must be faithful to that smallness of the Eucharist, that simple piece of bread which even a child can take in, that giving of a bath, that smile. We have so much that we don’t care about the small things. If we do not care, we will lose our grip on the Eucharist—--on our lives. The Eucharist is so small.
I was giving Communion this morning. My two fingers were holding Jesus. Try to realize that Jesus allows himself to be broken. Make yourselves feel the need of each other. The passion and the Eucharist should open our eyes to that smallness: “This is my body; take and eat”--—the small piece of bread. Today let us realize our own littleness in comparison with the Bread of Life. (180)
10. For us, we must never separate the Eucharist and the poor—--or the poor and the Eucharist. You will really be a true Missionary of Charity when you go to the poor and take Jesus with you. He satisfied my hunger for him and now I go to satisfy his hunger for souls, for love.
That is why Jesus made himself bread, to satisfy our hunger for God. See the humility of God. He also made himself the hungry one to satisfy our hunger for God through our love, our service. Let us pray that none of us will be unfaithful. Let us pray for our poor people. They are also hungry for God. (180)
11. God so loved the world that he gave his Son. He gave him to Mary, that she would be his mother. Jesus became a person, just like you and me, except without sin. And he showed His love to us by giving us his life, his whole being.
He made himself poor though he was rich—--for you and for me. He gives himself up completely. He died on the cross. But before dying he became the Bread of life—--in order to meet our hunger for love.
He said, “If you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” (John 6:53). The greatness of his love made him feel hunger. And He said, “I was hungry and you gave me food. If you do not give me food, you cannot enter eternal life” (Matthew 25:31-46).
Such is Christ’s gift. God continues to love the world in our day. He sends you and me to show that he still loves the world and that he has not stopped having mercy on it. It is we who today have to be his love and mercy to the world. (181)
12. How tenderly Jesus speaks when he gives himself to his own in Holy Communion. “My flesh is meat indeed and my blood is drink indeed. He that eats My flesh and drink My blood abides in Me and I in him.” Oh, what could my Jesus do more than give me his flesh for my food? No, not even God could do more nor show a greater love for me. (181)
Lord, I am not worthy to receive you...
13. Even Almighty God cannot fill what is already full. We must be empty if we want God to fill us with His fullness. Our Lady had to be empty before she could be full of grace. She had to declare that she was the handmaid of the Lord before God could fill her. So also we must be empty of all pride, all jealousy, of all selfishness before God can fill us with his love.
We must be able to give ourselves so completely to God that he must be able to possess us. We must “Give whatever he takes and take whatever he gives.”
How unlike him we are. How little love, how little compassion, how little forgiveness, how little kindness we have. We are not worthy to be so close to him—--to enter his heart. For his heart is still open to embrace us. His head is still crowned with thorns, his hands nailed to the cross today.
Let us find out: ”Are the nails mine? That spit on his face, is it mine? What part of his body, of his mind, has suffered because of me?” We should ask, not with anxiety or fear, but with a meek and humble heart. Let us find out what part of his body has wounds inflicted by our sin. Let us not go alone but put our hands in his. He is there to forgive seventy times seven. Our Father loves us. He has called us in a special way, given us a name. We belong to him with all our misery, our sin, our weakness, our goodness. We are his. (182)
14. Let us not be like the rich young man in the Gospel. Jesus saw him and loved him and wanted him but he had given his heart to something else—--to his riches. He was rich, young, and strong. Jesus could not fill him. Instead, be like Zacchaeus. He was a little man—--a small man—--and he knew his smallness. He recognized his smallness and made a very simple decision in order to see Jesus. He climbed a tree because he knew he was small. If he hadn’t opened his heart and responded to Jesus in that simple way, Jesus could not have shown his love, he could not have said, “Come down, Zacchaeus! Come down!” This is the foundation of everything: “Learn of me, that I am meek and humble of heart” (Matthew 11:29). Be small. (182)
15. Complaining and excusing oneself are most natural, but they are a means the devil makes use of to increase our pride. Correction at times hurts most when it is most true. (182)
16. Let us really take the trouble to learn the lesson of holiness from Jesus, whose heart was meek and humble. The first lesson from this heart is our examination of conscience, and the rest—--love and service---follow at once. Examination is not our work alone, but a partnership between us and Jesus. We should not waste our time in useless looks at our own miseries, but should lift our hearts to God and let His light enlighten us and make him to have His way with us. (183)
17. Let’s not live distracted lives. Let us know ourselves so that we can better understand our brothers and sisters. If we want to understand those with whom we live, we need to understand ourselves first of all. (183)
18. Self-knowledge is very necessary for confession. That is why the saints could say they were wicked criminals. They saw God and then saw themselves—--and they saw the difference. Hence they were not surprised when anyone accused them, even falsely. They knew themselves and knew God.
We take hurt because we do not know ourselves, and our eyes are not fixed on God alone, so we do not have real knowledge of God. When the saints looked upon themselves with such horror, they really meant it. They were not pretending.
We must also be able to make the distinction between self-knowledge and sin. Self-knowledge will help us to rise up, whereas sin and the weakness that leads to repeated sin will lead to despondency. Deep confidence and trust will come through self-knowledge. Then you will turn to Jesus to support you in your weakness, whereas if you think you are strong, you will not need our Lord. (183)
19. We are convinced that we know each other very well personally. Our lives belong to God—--why spend so much time analyzing ourselves?
The problem is not that we don’t make our examination of conscience but that we do it by ourselves. We must do it with Christ if it is to be a sincere examination—--Jesus is our “Co-worker.”
Our souls should be like a transparent crystal through which God can be perceived. This crystal is sometimes covered with dirt and dust. To remove this dust we carry out our examination of conscience, in order to obtain a clean heart.
God will help us to remove that dust, as long as we allow him to, if our will is that his will come about. Perhaps this is what we have lacked.
Our duties, our attitude toward our neighbor, our contacts, can offer us matter for reflection. If we carry out our examination without anything to divert our attention, we will realize that we need Jesus to help us discover our unfaithfulnesses.
Our examination of conscience is the mirror we focus toward nature: a human test, no doubt, but one that needs a mirror in order to faithfully reflect its faults. If we undertake this task with greater faithfulness, perhaps we will realize that what we sometimes consider a stumbling block is rather a rock we can step on. (184)
20. You need only ask at night before you go to bed, “What did I do to Jesus today? What did I do for Jesus today? What did I do with Jesus today?” You have only to look at your hands. This is the best examination of conscience. (184)
21. Our total surrender will come today by surrendering even our sins so that we will be poor. “Unless you become a child you cannot come to me.” You are too big, too heavy; you cannot be lifted up. We need humility to acknowledge our sin. The knowledge of our sin helps us to rise. “I will get up and go to my Father.” (184)
. . but only say the word and I shall be healed.
22. Make us worthy, Lord, to serve our brothers and sisters scattered throughout the entire world, who live and die in poverty and hunger. Through the service of our hands, give them their daily bread; and by our understanding love, give them peace and joy.(184)
23. Jesus, before his death, gave us his body and blood so that we could live, so that we could have strength, so that we would have life and would be able to drag our cross and follow him step by step. (184)
24. When we remember that every morning at Communion we have held in our hands all the holiness of God, we feel more willing to abstain from everything that may stain our purity. Thence flows a sincere and deep respect for our own person—--respect also toward others leading us to treat them with sensitivity but likewise abstaining from all disordered sentimentality. (185)
25. Holy Communion, as the word itself implies, is the intimate union of Jesus and our soul and body. If we want to have life and have it more abundantly, we must live on the flesh of our Lord. The saints understood so well that they could spend hours in preparation and still more in thanksgiving. This needs no explanation, for who could explain “the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God”? “How incomprehensible are his judgments!” cried St Paul, “And how unsearchable his ways, for who has known the mind of the Lord?” (185)
26. Like Mary, let us be full of zeal to go in haste to give Jesus to others. She was full of grace when, at the annunciation, she received Jesus. Like her, we too become full of grace every time we receive Holy Communion. It is the same Jesus whom she received and whom we receive at Mass. As soon as she received him she went with haste to give him to John. For us also, as soon as we receive Jesus in Holy Communion, let us go in haste to give him to our sisters, to our poor, to the sick, to the dying, to the lepers, to the unwanted and the unloved. By this we make Jesus present in the world today. (185)
27. The Word of God becomes flesh during the day, during meditation, during Holy Communion, during contemplation, during adoration, during silence. That Word in you, you give to others. It is necessary that the Word live in you, that you understand the Word, that you love the Word, that you live the Word. You will not be able to live that Word unless you give it to others. (185)
28. Christ made himself the Bread of Life. He wanted to give himself to us in a very special way—--in a simple, tangible way--—because it is hard for human beings to love God whom they cannot see. (185)
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