PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE: We are the body of Christ

Recently, a Eucharistic minister related this episode.

An older man who lived alone in an apartment near the church began to weep when given the Blessed Sacrament at Sunday Mass from the hand of the above-mentioned minister.

After Mass, the same minister asked the man if he was all right. The man responded that living alone, out of touch with everyone most of the time, he was moved by the gentle way and personal touch in the voice and eye contact when the Eucharist was given to him. Some weeks, he said, it was his only contact with another person.

In celebrating the First Holy Commun-ion of children in our parish community this May, if affords all of us the opportunity to  renew and refresh our appreciation in cherishing the Blessed Sacrament as the body and blood of the Risen Lord, Jesus.

Like the man who was moved by the encounter at the time of communion, so we are put in touch with one another — as well as with Christ — in the moment of our own “communion.”

It has been said that in the action and dynamic of the Catholic Mass, the priest and people make the Eucharist (the blessing and consecration) and the Eucharist makes the assembly the Body of Christ.

We must say, and even profess, that the Sacrament of the Eucharist is not something, but rather someone — the real presence of the Risen Lord and the real present gathering of the Lord’s people, described as the Body of Christ, the assembly.

This is why we also say we are at our best and we look our best when many are gathered and present with each other, especially at weekend Mass. When someone is absent from Mass, then we are less than what we could be.

As with any cross one might gaze upon, the Eucharist has two dimensions, one vertical and one horizontal. A cross is made up of two pieces — the vertical wood bar pointing to heaven and the horizontal piece with the earth.

At each celebration of the Eucharist in which we participate, the vertical dimension puts us in touch with Jesus and the things of heaven — and also in touch with each other, the community of faithful gathered. The horizontal reflects the earth-bound.

The teaching about the Blessed Sacrament in the Catechism of the Catholic Church quotes St. Augustine saying, “If you are the body and members of Christ (the church), then it is yourself as well as Christ that is placed upon the altar table. For when you hear the words, ‘the body of Christ’ and respond “amen,” be then a true member of the body of Christ and let your amen be always true.”

Our joy in celebrating the First Holy Communion children in this springtime surely is made even more joyful in the hope and trust that their good parents and families will be renewed in the gift of our faith and look forward to the weekend gatherings of the church.