by Rachel M. Gohlman
Posted on November 19, 2015 | COMMENT
“This is a hard teaching, who can accept it?” Jesus’s disciples said over 2,000 years ago in reference to the Holy Eucharist. For human beings, it seems that those things most lofty and beautiful are often “hard”. Too often our understanding is bound up within ourselves. Our world revolves around material things that one can see. What our minds and senses perceive becomes the “end all be all”. The Eucharist therefore, challenges our presumptions. It asks that we close our eyes and rely on Christ alone and truly open up to what is divine and incomprehensible. It is a call to participate in Jesus Christ’s very life, through whom all things were made.
As we ponder and accept the Eucharist, as true body and blood of Christ- God and Man, our hearts, once enveloped in sensual things become pried open. We experience a new avenue of love. This is why such a sacrament takes the center of our faith. The Second Vatican council says as much, calling the Eucharist “the source and summit of Christian life” (Lumen Gentium, chapter 2, article 5). We also hear it from the Bible. In the words of Paul the Apostle: “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.” (1 Corinthians 11:26). In another place, “I am with you always.” (Matt 28:20). Yes, it is a leap of faith to believe in something so remarkable and bizarre, but it is often on the unexpected journey that we find love.
Unfortunately, belief in the Eucharist is a point of disagreement and contention amongst those who follow Christ. This results from more modern interpretations of the Bible. Many Catholics as well question whether Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist at Mass. Many come into Mass, simply go through the motions then leave. They fail to see the greater mystery at work here. This is because the strident noise of the world drowns us out and the noise in our own minds. Sometimes, the priest fails to reach us. Sometimes his homilies are boring. Sometimes, Mass runs on too long. But any Catholic truly wishing to make the Mass more personal should stop no further than the real presence.
Let us say one is sick and goes to the doctor who tells him to take iron pills for a certain condition. What the patient receives is a bottle of white pills, labeled “Iron”. Without scientific equipment for analysis, he is incapable of knowing what the white pills actually contain. It doesn’t look like the metal known as iron. No, he must take the word of the doctor and the label of the bottle. Moreso, without taking the medicine, he will not get better.
The man who is enslaved by sin and doomed to death, takes recourse to the Divine Physician. He is told, “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.” (Jn 6:54). He is given a sliver of bread and a sip from a chalice of wine. It doesn’t look like Jesus’s body and blood. Taking the word of Jesus who says: “my flesh is meat indeed.” (Jn 6:55) and the written prescription of the Bible, he receives the food with faith. And moreso without it: “he has no life within him.” (Jn 6:53).
If we put our trust in earthly doctors, why do we not trust the Divine Physician through whom the earth and all the medicines on it were made? Without scientific knowledge we have no way of knowing what is in our pills and syrups and without pure faith which searches the things of God, we will never know the real presence. But remain hopeful for God enlightens even the most illiterate and sinful! Unlike costly medicines only accessible for the very rich, this medicine of immortality is available for all. We have only to believe and repent- and the very life of Jesus Christ is ours. Who wouldn’t long for such a gift!
This gift is one given out of incomprehensible love. Nothing is more essential for a relationship with Jesus that the gift of his very self. And do not be shaken by doubt! For if it is so unbelievable to say Jesus gives us his own flesh then it is also unbelievable that he was born of a virgin, is true God, died for our sins and rose again the third day. Jesus breaks our presumptions. He shatters our shells of selfishness. He replaces all the weakness inside us with his life.
The Eucharist is the very love and thirst of God for men’s souls. My own life was shattered and blown open by a realization that there could be a God who loves so greatly as to be consumed by us. I could not place such a gift back into the arms of the giver and say “You are not really giving this to me.” Every time someone says “It can’t possibly be real, come on, it’s obviously just bread and wine,” that’s what happens. They put a stopper on God’s love. They are saying what God can’t and can’t do and even worse, dictating the manner in which he loves.
Sometimes we doubt because we are confused and afraid to take that leap out into the darkness. Note that every soul who wants to be closer to Jesus is under attack. The devil lacks any power to stop the Sacrament from being made on the altar into that same body and blood which put him to defeat. Therefore, he seeks to plunder the priests who give it and destroy the people’s belief in it. If one could deny the Eucharist out of being “rational” or “spiritual” the better yet! Confusion if the enemy’s greatest snare. If he can’t outright steal or murder a Christian, he will confuse him to death.
But we don’t have to fall for it. We have God on our side. He is close to us in every tabernacle in every Catholic Church in the world. The world sometimes pressures us to only believe in what we can see, to lock the supernatural up in a box. Take these words to heart and ask yourself why God’s love should be limited? Does the Bible not say: “God is love” and also: “He who eats the flesh of the Son of Man has eternal life” (1 Jn 4:8 and Jn 6:54)? When Jesus said “the flesh profits nothing” (Jn 6:63), he meant our own logic and designs. He pointed out the Spirit- and not ourselves, as the means to understand. If you cannot understand through your fleshly eyes, ask that you may understand in the eyes of faith. As you imbibe medicine for bodily sickness, trust that Jesus takes even better care of you. He loves you more than you could ever imagine!
Rachel was the 9th Place winner of the Veils by Lily Real Presence Essay Contest.