“The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs.” This week I want to focus in particular on the two key phrases in our responsorial psalm for the seventieth Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Our readings for this week once again demonstrate the Lord’s ability to provide for our needs. In both the first reading and the Gospel there is a focus on feeding a multitude of people. From these passages we should see that the Lord desires that no one leave His presence hungry. There is a hunger prevalent in our society. This hunger is much deeper than our stomach. Today there are more people who are hungry and what they are hungering for is not food, but rather an encounter with the living God. You and I are so blessed because we have an opportunity for an encounter with the living God each and every day. Our Lord comes to us in word and in the most Holy Eucharist. How awesome is that brothers and sisters? Yet often times we don’t recognize that awesome gift before us.
One of the ways the hand of the Lord feeds us is when we encounter Him in the reception of the Most Holy Eucharist. In recent years polls have shown an increase in the number of Catholics who doubt the real presence. Why then has this crises of belief arisen in the Church? Perhaps it is because we have allowed ourselves to lose that sense of wonder and awe.
There is something to be said about the normative way of receiving Holy Communion in the Roman Rite which is receiving the Lord on the tongue. Some areas of the world have even maintained the norm of kneeling for the reception of Holy Communion. Both are beautiful postures. Kneeling is an act of humility and receiving communion on the tongue is an act of trust. How many of you have ever had the honor of feeding a baby a bottle? Children especially infants rely on us to feed them as they grow. We were all there once. Some of us may have the humbling experience when one day we may have to trust someone to feed us again. You and I must learn how to trust. We are God’s children and as children of God we need to allow ourselves to trust Him so that He can spiritually nourish us.
I just mentioned and touched upon the normative way of receiving Communion in the Roman Rite I want to be clear that I am not speaking out against communion in the hand nor am I discouraging it. Communion in the hand is an option granted by the Holy See here in the United States and in some select parts of the world. However, for those who utilize the option which Church provides I do urge you to be cautious! Do not allow yourselves to forget that what you are receiving is God and not a mere piece of bread. Please be careful! Some food for thought, every time we buy something at the store, take it home with us that item will loose its value soon as it leaves the door. The price is lowered because they have been used. We can never allow the Eucharist to lose its value. What we receive is God and He must always be treated with dignity and great reverence.
For the proper reception of communion in the hand one is to make a throne for the Lord with both hands with one over the other at chest level, and once the Eucharist is placed in the hand one should reverently pick our Lord up with the other and place Him reverently in the mouth in the presence of the minister. While many have been taught to step to the side after having the host placed in the hand it is preferable that the communicant consume the Body of Our Lord directly in front of the minister so there can be no doubt He has been received. Receiving the Eucharist directly in front of the minister allows the minister to give their undivided attention to each individual communicant. For example if I gave communion to someone who received in the hand and they step to the side, my attention is divided because while I am distributing communion to the next communicant at the same time I am watching out of the corner of my eye to make sure the individual received our Lord. The reception of Holy Communion is such a profound intimate encounter with the living God, there should be no distractions present either for the communicant or the minister.
Today I invite you to deepen your appreciation for the mysteries in which we celebrate. One way we can do that is by evaluating how we receive our Eucharistic Lord. A mistake we tend to make today is that we go through life looking through the wrong lenses. We tend to use our physical eyes and not our eyes of faith. All too often we don’t see the Lord and all that He does for us because we are so wrapped up with ourselves and our opinions that we don’t see the bigger picture. We must learn to humble ourselves before the Lord and allow ourselves to trust Him. I will be honest there are times in my life in which I need to do that more! While in today’s world more and more people are finding it more difficult to trust, keep this in mind; God has never led anyone astray. Trust Him!
Today we must ask ourselves was there ever a time in our lives in which we failed to recognize the hand of the Lord feeding us. Have we ever lost sight of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist? Was there ever a time in which we found ourselves struggling to trust. If we find ourselves saying yes to any of these questions than I invite to think back to that experience of feeding an infant a bottle or think back to a time in which we can remember when we trusted our parents to put food on the table for us before we even do how to cook. It’s that childlike trust we must recapture before our Heavenly Father. Once we recapture that childlike trust only then will we see clearly through our eyes of faith how the hand of the Lord feeds us and provides for all our needs.
Additional information on the Most Holy Eucharist
The link above leads to the document MEMORIALE DOMINI
Instruction on the Manner of Distributing Holy Communion from the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship issued in May of 1969
Link to Sacrament of Charity by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
Link to Pope John Paul II Apostolic Letter on the Mystery of Worship
Pope John Paul’s encyclical on the Eucharist and its relationship to the Church issued in 2003
The document Redemptionis Sacramentum on certain matters to be observed or avoided regarding the Most Holy Eucharist.