It’s a typical Sunday at the 9:45 Mass in my local parish. On the worn, lived-in faces of the parish’s elders who often frequent this Mass, I see faith and hope and endurance. Moms and grandparents cradle sleeping infants; toddlers squirm and giggle and grouse in the pews. Children skip down the aisle to their special liturgy of the Word. At the Lord’s Prayer, couples reach out to hold each other’s hands. Young and middle-aged singles find friends with whom to share the sign of peace. As the Communion line moves toward the front, the youth choir sings “How beautiful is the Body of Christ!” Indeed it is.
Paul tries to help his congregation in Corinth to dive deep into this mystery: “The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?…We though many are one body.”
Christ gives his very flesh and blood “for the life of the world.” “The one who feeds on me will have life because of me.” (John) Christ’s gift of the Eucharist spells out for us in concrete terms the message that he brings from his Father: “I love you more than you can imagine.” It is the same message that we will hear at the end of this week when we celebrate the feast of the Sacred Heart (June 23).
The Deuteronomy reading assures us that when we know hunger, God will always feed us in some way. The food may be quite different from what we know, expect or want, but we can trust that it will sustain us.
In this Eucharistic bread and in the bread of our daily lives, Christ comes intimately close to us, remains close, becomes part of us. We become one with him as we become one with each other.
The Church, writes Sister Mary Collins, OSB, is “a Body of bodies becoming the Body of Christ.” The next time you’re at Mass, look with reverence at those on the Communion line – members, like you, of the Body of Christ. And when you receive Communion, let your “Amen” signal your belief that the Body of Christ meets the body of Christ in your own flesh and blood.
Regina Bechtle, SC
Sr. Regina, a retreat leader, speaker, writer and spiritual director, serves as Charism Resource Director for the Sisters of Charity of New York.