Today I wish to focus on the Most Holy Eucharist as the Sacrament of Unity. In the first reading from Joshua, it says, “Joshua gathered together all the tribes of Israel at Shechem, summoning their elders, their leaders, their judges, and their officers.” Joshua was bringing a group of individuals together in that opening line of the first reading; much like the Lord draws us together today.
Brothers and sisters the Most Holy Eucharist is the sacrament of unity for He unites us as a family of faith and He has the ability to unite us with Himself. The Eucharist is also a sacrament of love. It is Jesus who calls and invites us here. Going back to what I said last week we should become more like Christ whom we have received. That is why we are here…ultimately to receive Him into our hearts in order to become more like Him.
As we heard in opening line of the Gospel many of the Lord’s disciples were gathered with Him and said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it.” Speaking of hard sayings how about today’s Second Reading taken from Ephesians 5 which is often one of the most understood readings in all of scripture and sadly is often cut short. The second reading from Paul’s letter to the people of Ephesus reflects upon the mystery of marriage. All too often all people hear is “wives should be subordinate to their husbands” and that’s it their hearts are closed. Yet it goes on to say, “Husbands, love your wives.” Then what about the first line in today’s second reading which is often lost? “Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Speaking of marriage St. Paul is saying husbands and wives should be subordinate towards one another out of love as Christ did for us. They should be living for each other not living for themselves. It is fitting that we have this Second Reading in regards to the subject of marriage intertwined with the readings which have been focusing on the Eucharist because I would like to purpose that the Eucharist is like a marriage.
Think about it…Christ submitted Himself to us for us! He submitted Himself once and for all on the cross and He submits Himself for us again and again on every single Altar in Church’s throughout the world. What should our response to this be to this? Our response should be a willingness to submit ourselves back to Him. Just like a marriage. “Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ.” As husbands and wives submit themselves to each other out of love, out of love we should submit ourselves back to God.
Brothers and sisters, when I or an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion says “the Body of Christ” your response is “Amen.” The word “Amen” simple means “so be it” or “I believe.” A few weeks back I preached on the perquisites for receiving Communion. Those perquisites were the one hour fast before receiving Holy Communion, one must be in a state of grace meaning free from mortal sins, and finally must receive Him with great attention and devotion. However, we should add in order for us as Catholics to receive Holy Communion we must first believe that the Eucharist is truly the Christ, the living God. To receive Holy Communion and to say “Amen” or “yes” to something one does not believe in would be a lie. What makes that particular lie more complex is that one would be lying directly into the face of God. Also, if someone would be in a state of mortal sin, one commits an even greater sin by receiving our Lord in that particular state. A mortal sin totally separates an individual from God and for one to receive Him one must be in communion with Him. Now if someone finds themselves in a state of mortal sin and has not been to confession and is thinking well I don’t care what Father C. says I going to communion anyway, let me issue this warning…your soul is at risk. Go to confession; be reconciled with Christ and His Church. Do not dig the hole any deeper than it might be but rather accept the Lord’s invitation to climb out of that hole into His own marvelous light before it’s too late.
Pope Pius X encouraged frequent reception of Holy Communion because the Eucharist is our source of strength. However, there might be things in our lives for a period of time that should cause us to reframe from physically receiving Him in Holy Communion. Remember while frequent reception of Holy Communion is encouraged, Church law states in the precept of the Church that we are required only “to receive Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist at least once a year during Easter Season.” Often times we need to step back for a moment. All too often we miss the things that are before our very eyes, but when we take the opportunity to step back we see things ever so clearly. If one is unable to receive Holy Communion that does not excuse those individuals from coming to Church because there is more than one way receive the Lord other than physically receiving Him in the Eucharist. We receive Him in His Word, and as we receive His Word we should allow it to melt our hearts. Also we receive Him in our interactions with one another. People should be encountering Christ through us and combined with His proclaimed word should then draw those individuals once their hearts are open to it to receiving Him physically.
My point is brothers and sisters the Eucharist is not a sign of disunity but rather is an expression of unity. The reception of Holy Communion is an expression of love. In order to receive the true spiritual benefit of the Most Holy Eucharist one must be willing and ready to submit oneself to Christ as Christ without hesitation submits Himself to us. The Eucharist is like a marriage between husband and wife for when a husband and wife openly submit to one another that expression of love is always life giving physically and spiritually. Same thing holds true for the Eucharist. Our Lord is not only our source of strength, but He is the very source of our life if we open ourselves up to it.