A priest once shared with me when he really “got” the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. After years of theology, celebrating hundreds of Masses, teaching religious education to thousands of kids, he was asked one day to give Communion to Mother Theresa who would be participating at a Eucharistic Liturgy. MOTHER THERESA, he thought. Probably just about the holiest person on the face of the earth! And he would be giving her Communion! He was amazed and awestruck and excited all wrapped in one until the moment when she stood before him….
It was at that moment that he was unexpectedly surprised with wonder. As he raised the host and began to say the words, “Body of Christ,” his attention was suddenly riveted…not on Mother Theresa…but on Jesus.
I am giving the BODY OF CHRIST to Mother Theresa, he reflected. Mother Theresa had receded into the background of his contemplative focus on the Eucharistic gift he held in his hands. He felt that it would be more appropriate for him to sink to the floor in adoration of the Lord Jesus who nourishes us with his body and blood.
This was an experience that would be impressed on his soul and remain a part of his Eucharistic devotion for all his life.
All of God’s saving activity through the ages from the Garden of Eden to the Garden of the Resurrection finds its climax in the Eucharist we receive and adore. The threads of his story and ours combine in the glory of the Blessed Sacrament:
The Creator who promised hope to fallen Adam and Eve.
The God who rescued Noah through the flood.
The Lord who chose Abraham, making with him a covenant and promising he would be the father of many nations.
The Liberating God who freed his people from slavery in Egypt, carried them through the desert, revealed to them his law.
The God who through the prophets taught and exhorted his chosen people….
The Jesus who healed and made whole.
The Redeemer who forgave and incorporated sinners into his family.
The Master who invited us together into community around himself and through him with the Father.
The Lover of us all who taught us to love and to live according to God’s heart.
The Savior who knelt and washed our feet and called his friends.
The Lord who gave himself to us to be our nourishment and strength.
The King who died for us that we might have life in total, extravagant abundance.
The Son of God who sends us to the whole world to proclaim him and baptize everyone into God’s life.
O Eucharistic heart of Jesus,
In you I find hope and freedom, truth and belonging, forgiveness and healing, friendship and mercy and life!
In your Eucharistic heart, O Jesus Christ, I experience the greatest love. You make me worthy of love, you make me capable of loving others as you have loved me.
O Jesus, in the Eucharist you rescue me from despair by attaching me to yourself, the Source of all Life. Without you I can do nothing (John 15:5).
O Jesus, only-begotten Son of the Father, by receiving into myself your body and blood I take on the features of your face. I appear before the Father with your beauty. In me he sees you, his beloved Son. You set me free from slavery (Jn. 8:36) and make me a child of God. You give me a share in everything that is yours. Jesus “makes us to share in his body, blood, spirit, and everything that is his. It is in this way that he both recreated us and set us free and deified us as he, the healthful, free, and true God mingled himself with us” (Nicholas Cabasilas).
Friend, Jesus wants you to know this:
From your every suffering he wants to heal you with his touch.
The God who in Christ has opened his heart to you can redeem your life.
All social ills find their healing in the Gospel that transforms life and the world from within.
Jesus is the only one who can tell you who you really are.
Jesus Christ himself is both the way and the truth and therefore he is also the life that you are seeking.
The Christ who has found you, seeks out every person to give them abundant life. He will use you as his hands, his voice, his heart, his touch.
Only Jesus knows how to show you the way to happiness.
All the good we desire, all the good we hope to achieve, all the truth we need to understand life, all the love we yearn for and the love we desire to give away to others—all of this we will find in the Eucharist. In the Blessed Sacrament is the inexhaustible mystery of how all creation and all of reality streams forth from the Father’s hands. He desires that we will live “in Christ” and be carried back to him in and through his Son and our Savior.
O sacred banquet!
When we receive the body and blood of our Savior there is sown in us a seed of immortality.
O sacrum convivium!
in quo Christus sumitur:
recolitur memoria passionis eius:
mens impletur gratia:
et futurae gloriae nobis pignus datur.
O sacred banquet!
in which Christ is received,
the memory of his Passion is renewed,
the mind is filled with grace,
and a pledge of future glory is given to us
In the words of St. Angela of Foligno let us cry out at every Mass: “O my soul, how can you refrain from plunging yourself ever deeper and deeper into the love of Christ, who did not forget you in life or in death, but who willed to give himself wholly to you, and to unite you to himself forever?”
By Sr Kathryn J. Hermes, FSP
Image credit: Cathopic; Exe Lobaiza