There is an old saying, “You are what you eat.” Somehow what we eat, through the process of digestion, becomes the very stuff that we are made of; the vitamins from fruits and veggies go to making our skin and strengthen our bones while sugar, not burned off as energy goes straight on our hips or our gut as fat. This is why most people, I would say, pay attention to what they eat, making sure they receive enough proper nutrition.
So what do we think happens when we receive Holy Communion? We are receiving Jesus in his entire being, body and blood, fully human, while at the same time fully divine. And even though he comes to us in the form of bread and wine substantially it is him, and it is him whom we are becoming. Just in the same way that we consume food and it becomes a part of us, so also we become him whom we receive when we are faithful and receive him fruitfully.
How powerful is this? Perhaps you never think about it, or perhaps you do, but it is not something to be taken lightly. Jesus was rejected for teaching the Eucharist, as he put it plainly, “Unless you eat of the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” (John 6:53)
Where do you stand? Do you realize the actual reality of what we are receiving? That this is not just bread and wine that we are receiving but Christ in us, our very life. Do we realize this? The second reading says it plainly, “The Lord Jesus, on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my Body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’” Afterwards many of Jesus’ followers left him because of this teaching. When the 12 apostles were asked if they also would leave, Peter responded, “Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68)
And Jesus asks us this every time we come forward to receive him. Let our “Amen” be an affirmation of Peter’s words. “The body of Christ”: “AMEN” (Yes, Lord I believe it is you! You are here! You are eternal life!) It shouldn’t just be a, “well yeah”, or head nod, as we would greet someone on the street, or even a stare, but a reception, an acknowledgement of who he is and what we are receiving!
Why do we have a sanctuary lamp? To proclaim Christ’s presence here, in the tabernacle, in the Eucharist. To say ‘this is important.’ He is truly here!
You know, my patron saint (St.Maximilian Kolbe) said, “If angels could be jealous of men, they would be so for one reason: Holy Communion.” Why is this? We receive Christ in us, slowly we are transformed into him. While the angels can be in his presence in the heavens we have the special opportunity of becoming one with him, his very life in us, transforming us.
So it is no surprise that Jesus desires to feed us, to give us his very life in us; that we might receive his Body that was handed over and his Blood that was shed. The story we hear in the Gospel today, the feeding of the five thousand, is a foreshadowing of how Christ would provide for us in the Eucharist. He desires that we would be healed and nourished by his hand and be filled with blessings overflowing. That we would have in abundance.
So let us come with reverence and awe today before his presence in the Eucharist, to receive the Lord in His Body and Blood. Let your ‘Amen’ be an acknowledgement of the value of his presence in your life and the gift that it is to you. And ask the Holy Spirit to stir in you a deeper desire for him, and to show you how your reception of communion has changed, and is changing, your life as you witness to his transforming power.
1 Corinthians 11:23-26