How do you feel when you are about to meet someone you love with all your heart? I don’t know about you but after years of marriage when I was about to hear my wife’s voice, I would get a feeling of anxiousness, a feeling of I can’t wait to hear her voice, be with her and kiss her lips. What a great feeling! What are you willing to do for that person you really love? If they are suffering, for sure you want to take that suffering away, in fact, even exchange places with them, take that suffering on yourself, even to the point of dying.
In the Vietnam War, some children in an orphanage were severely wounded. One of them was a 9 year old girl who had lost a lot of blood. To get a donor, the doctor and nurse called together a group of children who were had not been wounded and in their stumbling Vietnamese explained that they needed someone to give blood to save that little girls life. After a bit of hesitation one 10 year old boy volunteered and it turned out that he had a compatible blood type. As they were taking the boys blood he began to cry. They asked him if it was hurting him and he said no but he didn’t stop crying until a Vietnamese nurse arrived and talked to him. After she answered a few sobbing questions the boy’s crying faded away. Turning to the American doctor and nurse she told them that he thought his friend needed all of his blood and he would have to die to help save her life. Not that is love! He was willing to do that for a friend.
As we know and have been told many times that Jesus was willing to die for us to provide us a model of how to live, and he did it without crying. Now that is love, but he did more than that. What could be greater than giving up your life for everyone including both those who love you and those who don’t. Think of how hard that would be but Jesus did that and even more than that. He gave us himself in the Eucharist to be with us forever.
The Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is a belief which we are to have as Catholics but for some reason not all of us have that as our belief, in fact I have read that less than half of all Catholics do. It baffles me how this can be in that is proven from the literal interpretation of the promise of Jesus to give us his body and blood as our spiritual food and drink as found in today’s Gospel from Mark in addition to the 6th chapter of John’s Gospel, the 26th chapter of Matthew’s and the 22nd chapter of Luke’s gospel. Could they all be wrong? Not likely. Could he be only speaking symbolically? Once again, the answer is no. Remember when Jesus told the people that they would need to eat his body and drink his blood and many walked away, he could have tried to call them back by telling them that he was only speaking symbolically but he didn’t. Instead he asked his apostles if they were going to leave him too. Their answer was no because in their words they knew he had the answer to eternal life. As difficult as it had t be for them, they believed him and we can too. To believe in the Real Presence is simple to take Jesus at his word.
There have been multiple miracles regarding the real presence in the Eucharist over the years where the host turned to flesh and the wine turned to blood. I had the privilege of traveling to Italy a few years back and saw the evidence of one of these miracles at Lanciano. That miracle happened back in the 8th century. There have been multiple scientific investigations which have concluded the host is real flesh and the wine is real blood. There are multiple others including a German woman, Therese Neumann who for the last 36 years of her life lived without any food or water. Her only food was Holy Communion.
I have been a priest for almost 11 years and every time I speak the words of consecration I experience an awesomeness like that when I was about to hear my wife’s voice. I challenge you to experience that same awesomeness, that anxiety when you come forward to receive the living Body and Blood of Jesus in Communion.