One of the main things that separate us Catholics from our Christian brethren is the Eucharist. Non-Catholics have varying beliefs in what communion means for them. As Catholics, we firmly believe in the Real Presence and that what we are receiving at communion is the actual body and bluff of Jesus Christ. In his new book Around the Table: Retelling the Story of the Eucharist through the Eyes of Jesus’ First Followers Scott Hurd reveals exactly why the Eucharist is so important in our daily lives.
The way Scott does this is unique. He utilizes a technique highly influenced by Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises. This technique is a way of opening scripture that makes one become immersed in the scene imaging themselves literally in the scene as it occurs. Scott carries this method through into his book by having readers “plug into” the events at hand that each of the fourteen individuals encounter. These individuals run the gambit of those that had spent time with Christ during his ministry and even one who was touched by Christ after his Ascension. Cleopas, Paul, Bartholomew, Longinus, Mary, Matthew, Peter, Mark, Simon, Thomas, Philip, Andrew, Mary Magdalene, and John all have something to tells us about their individual encounters with Christ.
And what exactly can they teach us?
Cleopas shows us through his journey to Emmaus that we are never truly alone. He shows us that Jesus has called each of to this faith journey we find ourselves, but he didn’t leave us to walk alone. He is by our side the entire time whether we realize it or not.
Paul is the prime example that any of us can change at any time. Any of us can come to the full realization of what Jesus is about, how much He loves us and that He is simply waiting for us to turn to Him.
Peter proves that no matter how many times we screw up Jesus will never abandon us. It doesn’t matter how many mistakes we make in life He can turn us into something great. Peter proves that Jesus takes the most unlikely of candidates and uses them to accomplish great things.
Mary Magdalene is the flag bearer for all sinners. She is living proof that no matter how far off the path we may stray we can rest assured that we can come back and be accepted with open arms. No sin is greater than God’s forgiving mercy.
Scott Hurd has crafted a masterpiece that uses those closest to Christ to show us some things. Chief among them is the love of God. We indeed serve a loving God whose mercy is never ending. His love is so great that he sacrificed his only son to redeem us for our sins. He was not done there. Jesus, in turn, left us with the ultimate sacrament. The Eucharist is the life-giving meal we have the opportunity to partake in every day….if we choose to do so. Scott’s love of the Eucharist shines through the pages of this book, and it is contagious. Learn to love the Eucharist through the eyes of those who experienced it first. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord and if you have any questions…take and read Around the Table to truly understand the power of the Eucharist.