How does one always receive Jesus in the Eucharist with the greatest reverence and the deepest love? May the grace of God enable us to do so.
This evening I was at the sunset Mass and I really appreciated the entire celebration of the Eucharist. We had a guest preacher from Australia en route to the States for further studies. Fr Bernard told us a true story that had taken place some years ago when he was in India, between 1975 and 1976, for Theology studies. The Superior in charge encouraged the seminarians to develop some hobbies, and Fr Bernard took up bee keeping. He found it very interesting and often he would have plenty of honey in his room. He could give the honey away every now and then. The hives had to be kept very clean and they had to be protected from moths which could attack the hives by eating them up.
One day in spring, in the month of February, Fr Bernard was in his room doing some cleaning. While doing so, he felt something knocking at his knees. Looking down he saw a small lamb. As there were about fifty students there, the number of hobbies that they took up were really varied. It was obvious that the little lamb wanted to play with Fr Bernard so he put aside his work and played with the lamb. The next day, the little lamb came to his room again and the same thing happened. He played with it. Soon this became a part of his routine and as the days went by, he grew more and more affectionate towards the lamb.
Soon it was Easter. It was the month of April and everyone was getting ready for lunch. When Fr Bernard saw the decoration on the table, he was greatly impressed. The seminarian who had decorated it had used cotton wool and created what looked very much like a real lamb. Congratulating the seminarian, Fr Bernard learnt that he had taken great pains and spent several hours to make it look really attractive.
Then the same seminarian told Fr Bernard: Brother, your good friend is on the table.
Fr Bernard: What? How come you did not tell me?
Seminarian: You would not have allowed it.
Fr Bernard admitted that he really would not have given permission since he had an affectionate relationship with the lamb. He felt emotionally down then, as if he was crawling back into the tomb instead of rising with Jesus in the Resurrection. All his confreres were enjoying the sumptuous Easter lunch and they were eating the lamb on the table. Fr himself took a morsel of it right at the end. As he ate the meat, he reflected and wondered why he was never much affected with chicken or pork. For this little lamb, he almost felt reverence and gratitude. He figured that it was because he had a close relationship with the little lamb and now the lamb was offering itself as food to him. Some unfeeling ones told him that he had eaten his own pet.
Today, as we celebrate Corpus Christi, we recall the Lamb of God who sacrificed himself for us. Happy are those who are called to His Supper. So, Fr Bernard challenged the congregation to think of the disposition with which one received our Lord in the Eucharist. Do we receive Holy Communion with reverence and gratitude? This is the Bread of Life who nourishes us. It is Jesus we receive. The disposition and the attitude will clearly reveal how much He means to us. The way we receive Holy Communion will reveal the kind of relationship we have with our Lord.
Receiving Holy Communion is not just a Sacrament. It is receiving Life. God wants to give us Life. As Jesus is in the Father, so He wants us to be in Him. In the end, it is all about our salvation. May salvation, God’s gift, be ours. Amen.
The sunset Mass was followed immediately by a short procession in the grounds of the Church. Praise God!