Throughout the season of Easter the Church will proclaim at daily Mass excerpts from the New Testament Book of Acts. The Book of Acts is a continuation of the eyewitness accounts of the Gospels, presenting how the revelation of the Lord Jesus continues in an extraordinary way in the Church.
Remember, the Church is not merely a historical accident, a mere human invention or institution, but the Church is the extension of the revelation of the Incarnation in space and time. By this I mean that it is in the Church that the divine life and presence of Jesus Christ continues to act and to be revealed.
Christ unites his divine life and presence to the Church in a manner that can be likened to the communion of his divine and human natures. You can no more choose between Christ and the Church than you can choose between Christ’s divine and human natures. There is one Christ and to know him is to know him as divine and human, and to be in relationship with Christ is to be in relationship to his Body, the Church.
What does this mean?
Today’s excerpt from the New Testament Book of Acts gives a particular insight- that the Church has as its mission, Christ’s mission and in terms of this mission, will act as Christ acted.
Thus, the apostles Peter and John impart the healing power of God, just as Christ the Lord manifested himself in a ministry of healing. The apostles do what Christ did- and so should we.
The ministry of Christ continues as the Church enacts the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. It is through these merciful works that the power of Jesus Christ is manifested to the world. Mercy is not an idea or a feeling. Mercy is a work.
A Christian that does not know the corporal and spiritual works of mercy does not know Christ. A Church that does not enact the corporal and spiritual works of mercy is not accomplishing Christ’s mission. A world that does not receive the revelation of Jesus Christ through the corporal and spiritual works of mercy will not know either Christ or his Church.
Today’s Gospel details an eyewitness account to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus from the dead.
The Gospel of Luke describes a mysterious and unexpected encounter with the Lord Jesus- very much alive and mysteriously transformed after the terrifying events of his crucifixion and death. Christ himself interprets his suffering and death in relation to the Scriptures and then invites the eyewitnesses to receive the Eucharistic mystery. It is in the Eucharistic mystery that the encounter reaches its startling culmination.
The resurrection of the Lord Jesus is not simply an event of the past. The enduring reality of the divine life and presence of the Lord Jesus is real and present in the Blessed Sacrament, in the Eucharist. What we share in the Eucharist is not merely table fellowship with one another, but an experience of Jesus Christ risen from the dead. The reality of the Eucharist is not just ourselves, but the Lord Jesus, who makes himself known “in the breaking of the bread”.
The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life, for in it, Christ reveals the unity of his divine life and presence with his Church and through it he transforms those who receive it into living tabernacles of his divine presence and witnesses to his resurrection from the dead.