The world is longing for communion with Christ and evidence of that is the box office success of Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ,” said Bishop James Olmsted of Pheonix.
The film is just another way the Lord is leading his faithful to be “more intensely Eucharistic,” said the bishop in his column for the diocesan newspaper.
Bishop Olmsted’s invitation to be more Eucharistic comes just one month before the start of the Church’s Year of the Eucharist and the International Eucharistic Congress in Mexico, Oct. 10-17.
But the bishop was clear in highlighting that the Passion of Christ is not just the name of a successful film or an historical event that took place 2,000 years ago. Rather, the Passion of Christ, “continues to be present in the Church today every time that the Eucharist is celebrated,” he said. “That is why the Eucharistic celebration is often called the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
“When we have the awesome privilege of participating in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, we are not just remembering an event that happened to Jesus. Rather, in the Sacred Liturgy, we are one with Christ in His Cross and Resurrection.”
Jesus “continues for all eternity to offer this sacrifice of love to the Father as perfect worship and praise and as expiation for the sins of the world. When we participate in the Eucharist, we are joined with Christ in this one and eternal Sacrifice of Praise,” he explained.
It is important for Catholics to participate at mass, which the Church calls “the source and summit of the Christian life,” because it is there that they will find the courage to remain faithful, the strength for sacrificial love, and “the desire to take up our cross each day and follow Jesus” with joy, said Bishop Olmsted.
The film also awakened a new awareness of sacrifice as the language of love, he added. Sacrifice, he said, “is the way that covenants are forged, the way that bonds of marriage are strengthened, and the way that hatred is overcome and peace restored.”
Christ expects his followers to love in this way, he said, with “a love that is ready to give without counting the cost.”