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The Eucharist and the life of ordinary people
I am speaking from the limited experience of our small, contemplative fraternities inserted among the poor.
The Eucharist is the usual path for our personal and community prayerBut I would like to say, paraphrasing what was written about Charles de Foucauld, that the Lord causes us to join intimately the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and an exposed life - a life exposed to the view of the poor who are not afraid to come among us because they know that we lead a life of work and a life in the neighbourhood similar to their own, and that we share the same worries and the same struggle for a more just and more dignified existence - a life, in sum, exposed to that other presence of the Lord, his presence at the side of the poor.
The life of the ordinary people does not leave usIt lives in us when we read the word of God together, when we celebrate the Eucharist and when we pray in silence. It is a prayer that is often in tension between the grief of the psalm,
"Why do you remain silent when they massacre your people?" (see Psalm 94:3-5, Psalm 14:4)and the praise of Jesus,
"I give you thanks, Father: what you have hidden from the wise and learned, you have revealed to the little ones" (Matthew 11:25)or his cry,
"You did not want holocaust or victim, so I said, Here I am" (Hebrews 10:5f).
What I would like to testify to is that this sharing of the life of the ordinary people, whatever their belief or non-belief, with their greatness and their poverty, totally involved as they are in their struggle for life, all leads us to discover ever more fully the face of the God of tenderness and mercy who journeys humbly with us, as the Eucharist signifies.
The service of life
So from this experience, I would like, if you will permit me, to make a request. When we speak on behalf of the Church, let us pay attention to the manner in which we speak. Isn't speaking of our world principally in terms of a "culture of death", or speaking of secularisation as the source of all evils (violence, lack of respect for life, etc.), showing a lack of respect for all these people who are trying to live their faith in God (whatever name they may give Him) or their faith in man (whatever their philosophy) by giving themselves for the service of life - whether this is a matter of the daily battle of the father or mother of a family to provide bread and a future for their children, or whether it is a matter of men and women invested in the service of society? This mixed world, where the tares and the good grain grow together, is also the place of all kinds of generosity, all kinds of solidarity and all kinds of commitment, sometimes at the cost of one's life. And it is also this very world, and not any other, that the Father loves, for which he still gives his Son today (as the Eucharist reminds us) and in which his Spirit works.
Receiving and learning
Secularisation has stripped us of the influence we had over people and over society. We find it very hard to accept that. As Cardinal Daneels said in this very hall, the expectations of the men and women of today are 'evangelisable'. But they can only hear the word of the Gospel if we present it to them as a proposition that is addressed to their freedom, in a true dialogue in which we respect their search and in which we accept receiving and learning from their expertise and their experience of life, including that of the poorest people, who are so full of humanity. And basically, isn't this the path taken by the "humble carpenter of Nazareth" who allowed himself to be surprised by the faith of the Syro-Phoenician woman, and that of the centurion and of the man crucified with him?
Perhaps it is to that, also, that the humble sign of bread and wine, accessible to all and comprehensible to all, invites us.
Thank you for listening.
Marc Hayet LBJ