General Audience, November 8, 2000

Eucharist is Sacrament of the Church's Unity Pope John Paul II General Audience November 8, 2000 1. O sacrament of devotion! O sign of unity! O bond of charity!. St Augustine's exclamation in his commentary on the Gospel of John (In Joannis Evangelium, 26, 13) captures the theme and sums up the words that Paul addressed to the Corinthians and we have just heard: Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread (1 Cor 10: 17). The Eucharist is the sacrament and source of the Church's unity. This has been stressed since the beginnings of the Christian tradition and is based on the sign of the bread and wine. This is how it is stated in the Didache, a writing composed at the dawn of Christianity: Just as this broken bread was first scattered on the mountains and, after being harvested, became one reality, so may your Church be gathered from the ends of the earth into your kingdom (9, 1). 2. St Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, echoed these words in the third century, saying: The sacrifices of the Lord themselves highlight the unanimity of Christians strengthened by solid, indivisible charity. For when the Lord calls the bread formed of the union of many grains his body, and when he calls the wine pressed from many clusters of grapes and poured together his blood, in the same way he indicates our flock formed of a multitude united together (Ep. ad Magnum, 6). This Eucharistic symbolism of the Church's unity returns frequently in the Fathers and Scholastic theologians. q

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