What does the Eucharist mean to you?
Scripture tells us it’s the new covenant between God and humanity. It’s how Jesus gives himself to us, back 2000 years ago and today, and how he continues to sacrifice himself for us – every day – to come into communion with us and share a little piece of Heaven, if only for a little bit.
But what does the Eucharist mean to you? Do you feel the specialness, the holiness and grace that is God in the form of the bread and wine? Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. It’s a special day where we celebrate the significance of Christ in the divine Sacrament, where we continue to re-live the sacrifice He made so many years ago so that we could receive His grace over and over, every Mass, until the day we meet Him face to face. But while today is of special significance, he comes to us every day, not just Sundays. Not just Holy Days. But he comes to us in this Blessed Sacrament every day if we choose to receive it.
But what does the Eucharist mean to you? Is it simply something you take for granted?
When I think of this, I can’t help but think back to that Mass that Pope Francis celebrated on Ben Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia last year for close to 1 million people. I’ve touched on our Mass experience before, how special it was. But perhaps the most special moment was Holy Communion.
Along with my wife and son, my mom went with us on the pilgrimage as well. She jumped at the chance to see Pope Francis when I asked if she wanted to come! Leading up to communion, we were wondering how they would minister to several hundred thousand people. As the time for communion came, it seemed like mass chaos. My mom struggles with Parkinson’s and it was tough for her to walk amongst that many people after having stood and sat and waited for over eight hours that day. My son, not yet old enough for communion, was going to wait with her while my wife and I simply tried to get close to one of the hundreds of Eucharistic Ministers. We weren’t sure if we were even going to get close, or if they would have enough.
But in what seemed like groups of 50, much like how Jesus asked His disciples to group the crowd in the multiplying of loaves and fish in the Gospel today, we funneled to the closest Eucharistic Minister. Amazingly, we walked right up. I then exclaimed to my wife – I’ve got to get my mom up here! We hurried back to our spot and I grabbed my mom and briskly led her to the nearest minister still handing out the precious Host. He was the last one remaining that I could see. I made eye contact and he waited, and my mom received communion at this very special Mass. I remember looking at his chalice, and I swear it was still full, just like the baskets full of loaves and fish. Everyone had had their fill.
I will never forget looking into my moms eyes, and seeing what it meant to her to receive the Eucharist on this day, in this setting. We got back to our spot and I looked at my wife – both of us with tears in our eyes. It was so special, so amazingly meaningful, that words cannot explain.
This experience showed me how Jesus truly comes to us, in the multitudes, in the simplest of ways. We were all there – to receive Him. It was so special. So sacred. But it was no different than any other day. No different than any other Mass. We receive this very same Eucharist, this same God every time we go to Mass – whether it was with Pope Francis and a million people, on Christmas or Easter Sunday, on this Sunday where we celebrate the special significance of the Body and Blood of Christ, or any given Sunday, or any day of the week.
It is the same Christ. The same God. Everyday. We should have this yearning, this love and desire, this special sacredness for Him at every Mass, every day – not just one that Pope France is celebrating, as special as it is.
When reflecting on this day, and the readings, and what the Eucharist means to me, I realize that so many of us, myself included, take Him for granted. We too often see the Mass as commonplace, as just something we should just do and yes, too often we don’t treat it and seek Him with the desire, and yearning, and love that He truly requires. We less frequently yearn for Him as we did in Philadelphia that day.
But I think back on that day, and I then realize, that it defined what the Eucharist truly means. It is God’s grace, His love, His mercy, and His hope, taken from Christ’s very being and essence. It is His gift that He continues to share with us, that shows us, if only for split second in places like Philadelphia, the Philippines, Kenya, and Indiana, USA and everywhere in-between, what Heaven truly is like. That we are all the same, that we are all part of one body in humanity, in our faith, and that everything else is so small and just doesn’t really matter.
He shows us a little bit of Heaven in that time we receive Him and in the moments after, when we pray in silence or while listening to a beautiful hymn, asking Him to inebriate us with His grace, and show us how to be more like Him so that we get to spend eternity in His love and grace, and not just moments here and there.
In the Eucharist, I see the love and understanding – that which comes without saying words – like that when I looked into my moms eyes, and then the eyes of my wife, after receiving Him with all those people in the gaze of Pope Francis, truly knowing that we are part of something special in this world, a faith that has lasted 2000 years and has withstood and continues to withstand much persecution. In the precious Body and Blood of Christ, we receive something truly special and divine – something we can receive every day, and something that can prepare us to spend time with Him for eternity.
This is what the Eucharist means to me. What does He mean to you?