About a month ago, a parishioner told me she found a host under the seat … she was very sad to see that; being a Eucharistic Minister, she knew what to do, and she consumed it …. She asked me “Father, how could someone just drop it there?” I told her that most probably, it might be done by some non-Catholic visitors who must have come for a wedding or for a funeral. Even though I announce who can receive Holy Communion, when all got up for communion, they too must have come, but didn’t know what it was, didn’t want to consume it, and so must have just dropped it!
I thought of sharing that incident with you, because we all need to understand the truth about the Holy Communion: it is the body of Jesus Christ – not a symbol. That’s why the Catholic church gives reverence and adoration to the Blessed Sacrament. The church is very careful about handling the host, and that’s why the church makes it clear that the Holy Communion is for Catholics only…not because we want to exclude anyone … (though some think so, even Catholics have told me the same: what’s wrong about sharing; it is a sign of fellowship….???…) If you don’t know what it is, if you don’t believe what we believe it to be, is there any point of receiving/sharing it? (But even those who do not wish to receive Holy Communion can come forward and receive a blessing; just cross your hands on the chest, so we know that you are coming for a blessing. Also parents, please make sure that your little children also a get a blessing and not the Communion)
To those of you who think, “it is just a symbol of fellowship, so what’s a big deal in giving it to non-Catholics,” listen to the answer from Jesus who tells us NO, it is my body; it is my blood. That is what upset the audience of Jesus as we hear in today’s gospel. They murmured/complained about this teaching: How can he give his body to eat!!?? Who’s this?!! Is this not the son of Joseph …Mary…? We know him…….” Etc.
What did Jesus do? Did he soften his stand? No he was in fact doubling down on this truth: Read the rest of chapter John 6: “Amen/Truly I tell you … unless you eat the flesh of the son of man …. No eternal life..”
Very strong teaching; what was the result? Many of them left following him!! “Hard saying/who can follow this” The Catholic Church has consistently stood by this teaching, because it came from the mouth of Jesus himself. Just read John 6, and you will see that he did not mean it in a symbolic way but certainly in its literal sense.
Some may say, but there are also other ways in which Jesus is present to us. Like in the poor! Yes, the Church teaches that and more: there are 4 ways of His presence in the Mass.
- In the Assembly: “where 2 or 3 are gathered in my name, I am there in your midst” = that is the promise of Jesus. So when you gather here, Jesus is here n the assembly. When you gather at home or elsewhere in His name, then he is there.
- In the Presider: A priest is ordained in his name or “in persona Christi” (in the person of Christ) and for doing His actions. That’s why we stand when the presider begins the entrance procession with the deacons and other ministers.
- In the Word proclaimed: God is present in the Word. Did you notice that our church has the altar and the ambo at equal distance. Most churches have the altar at the center. Why this difference in our church? To show that Jesus is present in the Word Proclaimed and at the altar. That is why the first half of the Mass is called the Liturgy of the Word and the second half is called the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Or Breaking of the Word and the Breaking of the Bread. He is present in both.
- In Holy Communion: the Real Presence. Jesus is fully present – whether we can intellectually grasp this mystery or not. That is why we adore him at the altar and in the Blessed Sacrament kept in the Tabernacle. This First Friday we had the Holy Hour/Adoration. If you have not experienced a Holy Hour, or wonder how we spend an hour in adoration, have a look at our St. Matthias Youtube channel for this First Friday Holy Hour.
If we understand this truth ….then we will know that what we receive is truly body of Christ. Then we will come up with a sense of prayerfulness/reverence to receive the Lord; then after receiving him, we will spend a few moments in silence, speaking with the Lord in our heart. That’s why I keep requesting you to read John 6 & meditate it.