That Our Blessed Lord is truly present in Holy Communion is taught by Scripture, tradition and Magisterium. We have an example of that in today’s Mass. In the prayers and the readings. The mystery is prefigured in the Old Testament by the Priest Melchizedek bringing bread and wine, we see Our Lord preparing his disciples by the miraculous feeding of the five thousand, we hear St Paul witnessing to the tradition he has received and passed on, we hear the words of Our Lord “This is my body” this is the new covenant in my blood” we hear the teaching of the Church in the prayers of the Mass and of course we celebrate the mass itself, and I will do in your presence and for you what priests have done for 2000 years since the last supper, repeat those words of Jesus, “this is my body” and thus make present Our Blessed Lord.
Throughout the year we deepen our knowledge of this truth and grow in the faith we need to believe it. Today I just want to state plainly what we are talking about. You know it, but like love itself, and this is what it is, it needs to be said every now and then.
Ordinary bread is brought up at the offertory. But when I, an ordained catholic priest repeat the words of Our Lord, “Take this all of you and eat it, this is my body which will be given up for you”, that ordinary bread becomes Jesus. His human body, his human soul, his divine nature, Jesus becomes present. The appearance of bread remains but it is Jesus.
I was talking about this with the children preparing for first communion. Fixing it in their minds. At communion we do not receive bread, or get the bread, the priest doesn’t give out bread, it is Jesus. It isn’t ‘the blessed bread’, it isn’t just a symbol of God’s love, it isn’t Jesus ‘because I believe it’, it is Jesus because it is. Its real, its true, its fact.
And Jesus is God. We worship God. We worship Holy Communion. Holy Communion is God. When I genuflect I genuflect in adoration of God my maker. What I carry down from this altar, what is placed on your tongue or in your hands is God. When I place the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle I am putting God there and there he remains.
Because this gift of himself is given to us daily, in such humility by Our Lord, because he comes to us hidden from our sight in the form of bread, because he dwells silently in the tabernacle we can get used to it, not quite realise that it is God or even forget God is there. That is why we genuflect, why we act reverently, why we fast for one hour before receiving Holy Communion, why we make a thanksgiving after receiving Communion, why we are careful about carrying on conversations in Church. Because it is God.
Let us remind ourselves and each other if necessary that God is here in the tabernacle, exposed upon the altar for an hour before Holy mass, given to us in Holy Communion. God. And for our own sake, but also for the sake of the little children among us, for those interested non-Catholics among us, those untaught Catholics among us, let us witness by our actions that God is here among us in the Blessed Sacrament.
How wonderful that today on this feast day Ethan, Gracie and Frazier will receive this divine gift for the first time and at the same time perhaps remind us of the day we first received Our Lord.