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home : opinion : word of faith

6/15/2017 9:00:00 AM
Communion is really Jesus

'The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ?...' -- 1 Cor 10:16

The words uttered by our Lord in Sunday's Gospel (John 6:51-58), taken from St. John the Evangelist's "bread of life" discourse, are utterly true. Jesus says: "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day."

The Eucharist is not a just a sign, not just a symbol. We believe it is the true Body and Blood, soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus, sacramentally present under the species of bread and wine.

Simply put, the Eucharist is Jesus Christ, given to us under the form of the staple elements of the diet of the people of Jesus' day. It far surpasses the manna in the desert that we read about in Sunday's first reading (Dt 8:2-3, 14b-16a).

We have, in many ways, lost a sense of wonder and awe concerning the Eucharist. I suggest two practical ways that we can recover a sense of wonder and awe about the Eucharist.

Two ideas
1. Do we reverently receive the Body and Blood of Christ? Do we take time to pray after the reception of communion? Do we take time to realize that, having received the Body and Blood of Christ into our bodies, we are all now living, breathing, walking tabernacles of God?

How different our lives would be if we only stopped to realize that fact! How differently, perhaps, we would treat one another, recognizing the fact that our Lord Jesus lives in my brother and sister! Recall the words of St. Paul in our epistle: "Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf" (1 Cor 10:16-17).

2. Perhaps we should make an extra effort to engage in eucharistic adoration. Remember the story about St. Jean-Marie Vianney and the old man who would sit for hours in church before our eucharistic Lord in the tabernacle: The Cure of Ars asked the peasant was it was that he was doing as he sat there, and the peasant replied: "Nothing. I look at Him and He looks at me." 

Looking at the Lord, gazing at Him, especially when we can sit quietly in front of Him, is like looking into the mirror of truth. As we look to Jesus in the exposed Blessed Sacrament, He looks back lovingly at us. We give Him our fears, our worries, our anxieties; and the wise and gentle teacher, truly present in the eucharistic species, in the silence, gives us His peace.

There is no greater way to pray than in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Listen to the words of the Venerable Fulton J. Sheen from his masterpiece, "Treasure in Clay" (1980): "I keep up the Holy Hour...to grow more and more into His likeness. As Paul puts it: 'We are transfigured into His likeness, from splendor to splendor.'

"We become like that which we gaze upon. Looking into a sunset, the face takes on a golden glow. Looking at the eucharistic Lord for an hour transforms the heart in a mysterious way, as the face of Moses was transformed after his companionship with God on the mountain. Something happens to us similar to that which happened to the disciples at Emmaus."

Try adoration
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament gives us the quality time to be with the one whom we love and the one who loves us more than we can ever ask for or imagine.

This Corpus Christi (feast of the Body and Blood of Christ), may we -- priests, deacons, religious and laity -- each in our unique Christian vocations grow in reverence for the Lord Jesus Christ truly, substantially present in the Eucharist.

Through reverent participation at Mass and prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, may we prove to the world that Jesus, the true bread from heaven, is with us, and have the courage and strength to help make the Lord known and loved at every moment, even until the end of time.

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