“To receive the Blessed Sacrament worthily, one must have a great desire for union with Jesus Christ.” ~ St. John Vianney
I’m sure you have all heard the saying, “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for life.” Well, if that is true, there is one thing for certain. That person will still die. We are, after all, mortal and all of us will face death one day.
But, what if we teach a person to do more than fish? What if we teach a person that receiving the Eucharist is receiving the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ Himself? That food unites us with Jesus and feeds us for more than life. It feeds us for eternity.
That is why we need to be careful about how we receive Communion. So many people, I truly think, come up the line for Communion because it’s “that time at Mass”. They do not think about what they are receiving. This is reflected by many who say that they come up for “the bread” or “the wine”. They do not even use the phraseology “Body and Blood of Christ”. This is not good because it reflects that they most likely are not receiving the Eucharist worthily.
While they may not be making a sacrilege by receiving, they are far from the true understanding of the Eucharist and, not appreciating it, they get little value from it. Their reception lasts but a brief moment and on their way back to the pews they might be planning what to prepare for lunch or the afternoon’s outing.
Our reception of the Eucharist should have us solely considering the Lord, Jesus Christ. We are keyed in to that great mystery when the priest elevates the host and says, “Behold!” “Behold, the Lamb of God, behold Him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the Supper of the Lamb.” If one were in a comedy club, that phrase would be followed by a mike drop because there would be nothing else to say. That is everything to us.
“Behold the Lamb of God.” Yes, this is truly bread no more. It has been changed into the Body and Blood of Christ. “Behold Him who takes away the sins of the world.” Jesus suffered and died on the cross and rose from the dead to defeat sin and death. He accomplished what He set out to do. “Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.” Jesus is the Paschal Lamb. The lamb was eaten after its blood was smeared over the lintels of the doors on the night of the Passover. Jesus gave us His Body and Blood at the Last Supper. He gives us His Body and Blood every time we come to the altar to receive Communion.
The act of receiving Communion is more important than the meal we are going to prepare when we go home. It is more important than the ballgame we are going to attend after Mass. It is so important that it should be all that we contemplate as we take Him in to ourselves. When we go back to our pews, we should be in awe of so great a gift and take the time necessary to thank Him for making us one with Him.
If we recognize all of that, we are positioned properly to receive the Lord worthily. If we do not recognize that, we have a long way to go in our life of faith. Thankfully, Jesus is infinitely patient with us and willing to wait for us to come to Him.
FAITH ACTION: The next time you receive Communion, do not pay attention to those around you. Pay attention to that which you are about to receive: the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ, the Lord.