I’m going to take a giant leap of faith and presume that we will be back in our churches today to celebrate this most precious feast of the Most Holy body and Blood of Christ. Forgive me if my leap doesn’t quite make it. For the past several weeks, and far too many weeks, we have not been able to gather as a community of faith and share in the celebration of the Eucharist and be nourished on the Body and Blood of Christ. For many of you, and perhaps all of you, like me, have not only missed being able to share in the Mass but we have been fasting, so to speak, and I am sure we are so ready to fest at the table of the Lord once again.
Many years ago a friend of mine, who did not share in our faith, asked me why receiving communion was so important to us. The first answer that came to my mind was simply ‘because Jesus wants us to have the Eucharist and wants us to be nourished on this life-giving food.’ He accepted this answer but he wasn’t convinced enough to want to become a Catholic. I asked him how frequently Communion was celebrated in his church. He responded, ‘Never’. He went on to say that the Eucharist is never mentioned in their church.
Our conversation went on I asked him if he didn’t think something was missing in his religion. He said it hadn’t up to then but he would have to think about it. Sometime after that our lives went in different directions and I didn’t see him for several years. We all know how that happens in life. Then, by chance, I met him again. We were both grown up then; he got married, and I became a priest. One of the things that was on my mind in that later meeting was I had to ask him what religion he belonged to. He answered, “Oh! I met my wife, who is a Catholic, and now I am too.’ He went on to tell me, ‘Yes, I get it the Eucharist means everything to me. In fact I am a Eucharistic minister at my church now.’
I’m not saying it was the conversation I had with that friend when we were both young that had any great influence on him. I’m sure the influence came from the wonderful girl he married. It’s just that I can’t imagine a faith practice that doesn’t include the Eucharist.
If our churches are open again today, I hope they never close again and I hope you agree with me one hundred percent.