Our Yearning for the Eucharist
In the last two columns we sought to appreciate how precious the sacrament of the Eucharist is:
- How what we see as bread and wine has been transformed into the body and blood of Jesus;
- How, as we walk towards the altar to receive, we should be aware that we are going to be in the real presence of Jesus whose reality is only veiled under the species of bread and wine;
- How receiving Holy Communion in the here and now is a foretaste of the heavenly banquet to which Jesus will invite us in the next life in the company of his saints and angels.
So what should we do? What should be our disposition and attitude to Holy Communion? How often and under what circumstances should we present ourselves at the Table of the Lord in this life?
Because we are men and women of little faith, we often do not realise what a privilege it is to have the opportunity to receive Christ himself in this earthly life!
O, Christian believer, know that Jesus himself is inviting us, speaking to you and me as he did to the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s Well, saying: “If you knew the gift of God.” Yes, Jesus, the gift of the Father, is really here to give us the living water, the bread of heaven and the food of angels!
If the above is true, as we know it to be, should you and I not burn with a desire to echo the Sons of Korah who sang, “As the deer that pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you my God” (Ps 42:1)?
And when, because of sin or other circumstances, we are deprived of the opportunity to receive Christ in the Eucharist, should we not cry out as they did, “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God” (Ps 42:2)?
As Christian believers privileged to receive the bread of life, we might ask: How often can I go and receive Jesus? How often can I present myself at the Table of the Lord to quench my thirst with the living water? The answer is that the Church encourages us to receive Holy Communion whenever we participate in the celebration of the Eucharist. The Church also obliges us to receive at least once a year.
The Church also warns that we should not receive when we are in a state of mortal sin: “Anyone aware of having sinned mortally must not receive Communion without having received absolution in the sacrament of penance,” says the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
St Paul makes this very clear: “So then, whoever eats the bread and drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord” (1 Cor 11:27).
So, Christian soldier, we should examine ourselves before we eat of the bread and drink from the cup. And if we are convinced we are in a state of grace, or have received absolution, we should be happy to repeat the words of the Sons of Korah as we join the Communion queue, “Then I will go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight” (Psalm 43:4)!