Fyodor Dostoevsky, one of Russia’s greatest writers, narrowly escaped execution for treason. Arrested as part of a socialist conspiracy he was taken to a square in St. Petersburg and read the death sentence. He watched as soldiers aimed their rifles at him. Then an officer appeared carrying a pardon. Dostoevsky was a new man after this experience. He later wrote to his brother: “Life is a gift; life is happiness. . . . If youth only knew! Now my life will change; now I will be reborn.” It was the beginning of a conversion process that radically changed his life.
Dostoevsky could surely relate to the prophet’s words today. He knew what it was like to go from death to life and from darkness to light. He was a prisoner who suddenly and unexpectedly found freedom. Like the exiles in Babylon, he could feel the joy of those who were afflicted yet found comfort in the Lord. He had been given a fresh start, and he would never see things in the same way again.
As Catholics, we have a unique understanding of this truth. Every time we celebrate the Mass, we encounter Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who brings “liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind” (Luke 4:18). In the Eucharist, he comes to give us new life, to forgive us, and to heal us. Our Lord has taken upon himself the death sentence we deserved for our sins, and we receive the fruit of his sacrifice every time we receive Holy Communion.
Our Lord wants to revolutionise our lives. He wants to embrace us and fill us with his joy and peace. He wants to pour his grace into us so that we will grow deeper and deeper in love with him. He wants to take us from our ordinary life into his divine life so that we can shake the world with the fire of his love. His mercies are showered upon us each day in this place, so let us come to the Eucharist expecting to receive his infinite riches.