Take a minute to consider the honor your heavenly Father bestows on you; the respect He shows you; the kindness and thoughtfulness He has for you; the gift He offers you.
What the Father suggested when He told the children of Israel to eat the Passover; what the Son of God celebrated with His Apostles at the Last Supper—this is the table, the feast, the altar that the Spirit brings to you, and sets before you, and urges you to join.
Abraham, King David, the Prophet Isaiah, Ruth, the prophetess Deborah, the Queen Mother Bathsheba—none of these holy men and women, these matriarchs and patriarchs—not one of them tasted what is so readily served to you.
No angel will ever get what the Lord gives you. What we are given drove Lucifer insane with jealousy. And it creates an unquenchable desire within Michael and Gabriel.
Those children whom Christ held; the men and women who felt His healing hand; the little girl Jesus raised from the dead by gently lifting her up—as much as they were blessed, none of them received at that time the blessing, the boon, the miracle that is right before your eyes, ready to be placed in your mouth.
Sometimes we pine to hear His voice, to see His face, because we think the people who heard and saw Christ Jesus before His passion had it better than we do now. But while you wonder what it was like for them, they envy you.
For you and me—each one of us that gets to draw nigh and take the body of the Lord, each one of us that gets to consume the Lord so that His blood mingles with ours, His flesh is knit to our flesh—each one of us, when we receive the Blessed Sacrament—only we know what it was like to be the Holy Mother of God.
For she carried in her womb Him whom the world cannot contain. She felt growing within her the God through whom all things were made. This young teen-aged girl was blessed by the Father’s Spirit to be able to say, “His blood is intermingled with mine; Christ’s flesh is united with my flesh.”
You and I can speak the same way. The Lord’s blood flows through our veins. The Lord’s flesh feeds our life. Jesus’ own Self is conjoined to our self.
That is the gift we celebrate today. Not that God is nice to us. Not that Jesus loves us. Not that the Holy Spirit inspires and moves us. But that God’s own nature unites with our nature. That the Holy Trinity actually, truly, undoubtedly, and without hesitation makes a home within our very being: in our soul as well as our mind; in our body as well as our heart.
Ponder the reverence the Most High God shows you. Marvel at the attention He pays to you. Meditate upon the mystery that is both held before your eyes and then placed in your mouth.
And as you do, as you draw near believing that what I hold in my hand is actually what Jesus said it is; as you behold no longer some piece of bread but Christ’s body and blood, together with His soul and divinity—understand, then, and take to heart that this conversion, this change, this miracle happens for only one reason: so that you might partake of the divine nature. So that the Lord God might actually permeate your nature with His; and imbed Himself within you.
This happens not because of anything I have done. A priest does not cause the offered bread and wine to become the Body and Blood of Christ. This is the work of Christ Himself, who was crucified for you. I simply say the words obediently; but their power and grace are God’s. (St John Chrysostom)
And that power and grace which changes the bread and wine also converts and transfigures you. Slowly, if you resist. To your harm, should you deny the mystery. But as your faith in this sacrament grows; as you own the gift, embracing and depending on it; as you begin to see, and believe, and hold fast, and trust that what is really given is really there; and as you give thanks more and more for this astounding kindness and generosity—then you’ll know that Truth tells the truth when He says that you will live because of Him.
The life you live from this Holy Eucharist—it is a life no longer lived with fear because you have seen that, however things go, the Lord’s goodness prevails. And life lived from this Blessed Sacrament is a life no longer lived wanting more or different, because you know that nothing can match or exceed this Holy Gift. And life lived from this Holy Communion is a life no longer lived pursuing other goals because there is nothing else, except to live in the kingdom of heaven, surrounded by the saints and angels, sitting at the Lord’s Table.
As you taste the Lord in His Sacrament and see what He gives you from this altar, you will realize true justice and righteousness; complete beauty and authentic love; and a unity that exceeds all other intimacy.
Only this, then, can cause you pain and grief—if you are deprived of this heavenly food, either because your sin requires you to abstain, or because your neglect and selfish desires have kept you away, or because our Father, in His wisdom, has prevented you.
But if none of these are the case, do not deny yourself this food. Do not think up reasons to stay away. And do not let your pride or pity keep you at home. Instead, with all that you have, hasten with gladness to receive the blessing Christ offers you in His holy chalice. For you want eternal life; and here it is. You want to know that you are safe and protected; and the blood on your lips drives away the devil, and the flesh you consume brings you through the grave.
Lift up your hearts, then, and draw near with an earnest heart, focusing on Our Lord and His Supper. “Believe me, this Sacrament drives away not only death but also all diseases. For when Christ abides in us, He calms our sinful urges; He strengthens piety; He extinguishes the passions; He heals our wounds; and He raises us up after every fall.” (St Cyril of Alexandria)
To this Lord Jesus Christ, whose flesh is food indeed and whose blood is drink indeed, together with His all-holy Father and His life-giving Spirit, belongs all glory, honor, and worship: now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.