On Saturday I spoke at my community’s Solemn Eucharistic Adoration for five minutes. I thought I would get more mileage out of the talk and use it for my post this week! I hope you find it inspiring. . . .
At one of our schools, a teacher was taking her little ones to chapel. As they passed classrooms, the teacher said, “Children be very quiet, so quiet that no one knows we are coming, not even Jesus.” As the children filed into chapel, suddenly one little girl called out, “Surprise!” She knew Jesus was there.
Pagans worshiped gods of stone and wood, and we wonder how they could do that. Well, some people wonder how we Catholics can worship bread and wine! Because are blessed with the gift of faith. We believe that Jesus is really, truly present physically, sublimely in the Eucharist. We call this miracle the Real Presence. It is real, not fake news. When Jesus says, “This is my body. This is my blood,” we take his word for it. A Protestant woman once remarked, “If I believed what you believe, I would go down the aisle of church on my knees.” Author Annie Dilliard observed that we should all be wearing crash helmets to church. But for us, who experience the Eucharist every week or even every day, it is easy to take this miracle for granted. We get used to it and forget how stupendous it is. We are like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. Jesus was walking right alongside them, but they didn’t realize it. Today let’s deepen our awareness of the Real Presence, of Jesus who accompanies us on our journey. Let’s rejuvenate our Eucharistic amazement.
God is beyond words and beyond our understanding. The almighty created stars so numerous that scientists don’t know where the universe ends. The all-wise God fashioned all the marvelous beings in the world including us. Then this magnificent One did something incredible, mind-blowing. God took on the form of a human being, one of his creatures. But if that weren’t enough, this great God now assumes the form of inanimate creatures: a piece of bread, a cup of wine. That is preposterous! But it shows God’s profound love for us. Did you ever say to someone, or did someone ever say to you, “I love you so much I could eat you up?” God loves us so much that he allows us to eat him up. No human being can ever be that close to us, that united to us. And by consuming God, we become more like God, more in his image, more divine. Just being in his presence in the Blessed Sacrament brings about a change in us, like sitting in the sun tans or burns our skin.
We all long for God. Jesus devised a way to satisfy our God-hungry hearts. In the Eucharist, Jesus, the Risen Lord, is with us actually, physically. Sister Christopher once said to me, “The closer you sit to the Blessed Sacrament, the closer you are to Jesus.” Sister Florinda, who cared for the kitchenette at the College, believed Jesus was in the tabernacle. When she was alone in chapel, she sang love songs to him! Because of this miracle of the Real Presence, we are able to hold God in our hands. We are able to approach him as really as Nicodemus, the sinful woman, and the Roman centurion did. Jesus dwells with us as really as he lived with Mary and Joseph in Nazareth and with Peter in Capernaum . . . but disguised.
In the Blessed Sacrament, Jesus says, “I am with you always. Come to me.” He says to you:
When you are tired and your spirits are drooping, come to me, I will renew you.
When you need courage to carry out your tasks, come to me, I will embolden you.
When you face change, a new situation, growing older, come to me, I will be with you.
When you are sad, come to me, I will cheer you up.
When you are distressed by the state of the world, come to me, I will give you hope.
When you are lonely, come to me, I will be your unfailing companion.
When you face difficulties, come to me, I will give you strength.
When you feel remorseful, come to me, I will forgive you.
When you are in pain, come to me, I will comfort you.
When you are worried, come to me, I will remind you of my love for you and your loved ones.
When you are happy or successful, come to me, I will rejoice with you.
Jesus has given himself to us in this remarkable way. He asks that we give ourselves to him in return. He also asks that we perform a miracle like his and become bread for others. As St. Teresa of Kolkata said, “Let the people eat you up.” As we adore and love Jesus now hidden in the Blessed Sacrament, we look forward to the day when we will behold him face to face. On that day, he will say to us who ate his body and drank his blood, “Come to me and live with me forever and ever and ever.”
What role does the Eucharist play in your life? What does this miracle mean for you?