Social Teaching and the Liturgy

"For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.' "

Matthew 25:35-36

Our Catholic Liturgy calls us to unity. Our liturgy is the fountain of God's Love flowing upon us. It is only in unity that we can come together in the reception of Communion. Our Eucharistic Prayers call for unity among people. In Ecclesia de Eucharistia, Pope John Paul II refers to Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians, most especially chapter 11. In paragraph 20 of his encyclical John Paul II writes, "The Apostle Paul, for his part, says that it is "unworthy" of a Christian community to take partake of the Lord's Supper amid division and indifference towards the poor (cafe. 1 Cor 11:17-22, 27-34)." In the Eucharist, we are called into communion. Therefore, we should not engage in divisive activities like segregation.

However, John Paul II makes a very important point in paragraph 35 when he writes, "The celebration of the Eucharist, however, cannot be the starting point for communion; it presupposes that communion already exists, a communion which it seeks to consolidate and bring to perfection." The Eucharist calls us to communion, but it does not create communion out of nothing. It nurtures and spreads communion but, as with all we receive from the Lord, we must be open to the communion He offers us. In paragraph 38 of "Ecclesia de Eucharistia," John Paul II refers to the outward community we must practice to receive the inward Communion of the Eucharist.

To be active participants in our liturgy involves how we live our lives. We are called to love our neighbor as the second greatest commandment (Matthew 22:39, Mark 12:31, Luke 10:27). We must respect the rights of others and treat all with the dignity they deserve as created in God's image (Genesis 1:27).