May 29, 2016
Melchizedek in the first reading this week offered bread and wine to God for the Thanksgiving of his faithful ones. Abraham saw in this sacrifice an eternal gift and valued it so much that he gave a tenth of his belongings to Melchizedek. Bread and wine have become the elements for the Lord to make a gift of his Body and Blood at His Supper.
The gift of the Lord, the Body and Blood of Christ that we receive is the greatest gift possible. It is His sacrifice on the Cross made real in the Eucharist for us to eat and be nourished with. Somehow or other, many of us have lost the wonder and awe, the respect and reverence, that the Eucharist deserves. Just consider the number of people who have ceased attending Church in our time. Every year, we have about 70 to 80 children receiving their First Holy Communion. Where are all these children and their families on regular Sundays? Some are in Church week in and week out. Some are away on vacation, hopefully attending Mass elsewhere. But many, perhaps over 75%, simply do not put enough value on the Eucharist to attend Mass regularly. They will respond, "We are good people. We believe in God and that is all that matters." But the problem with their argument is that there is no place for God’s greatest gift, the Eucharist, in their lives. The awe, the respect, and the reverence for the Eucharist are missing from their lives. They also miss the nourishment the Lord gives in the Eucharist.
But I do not have to look to others. There are times that the reverence for the Eucharist is not all it should be in my life, as perhaps also in yours. Too often I prepare for Mass focusing on my duty or the homily while not remembering that far more important than duty and homily is “to clean” my life for the reception of the King of the universe and the Word Made Flesh in Communion. Perhaps, too often you join the line to receive communion without taking the time to consider what you are doing or whom you are receiving. Too often people receive communion and then head for the doors to beat the parking lot traffic. Too often people who carry serious sins in their lives come up for Holy Communion offending the Lord as St. Paul said to the Corinthians: “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the Body and Blood of the Lord. Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgment against themselves (1 Cor 11:27-29).
The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of the Lord was established in the thirteenth century to promote respect and reverence for the Eucharist. The celebration has retained its purpose. We need to stop today and consider our reception of communion. We need to ask God to rekindle in us and in all our people the awe, the respect, the reverence, and the love of Christ that is fundamental to understanding the reality of the sacrament of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.