“While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is my body.” (Mark 14:22)
Earlier this year, I saw a remarkable movie that I have yet to write about. It was a documentary from Spain where the director endeavored to cast a positive light on the priesthood by profiling the life of one particular priest who touched the lives of countless people. The movie is filled with testimonials including the director’s who in the middle of the movie inserts himself to respond to all the countless remarkable things this priest did during the course of a day. So when a college professor who knew the priest says, “On his own, a man cannot act like this.” The director in a way pauses the movie to ask a question:
“Could it be that this priest might have taken some type of special energy substance that allowed him to do everything he did? I would say yes. This priest was doped up. Every day he consumed a substance that is illegal in many countries but taken by many people although they are ashamed to admit it. He not only consumed that substance, he was co-producer and distributor. Every day this priest took a piece of bread and a little wine. He repeated what Jesus Christ said 2,000 years ago, and then…he ate God. So in that case, he wasn’t playing on a level playing field.”
This movie is extremely powerful, but this brief interlude to examine the effects of the Eucharist on the life of this priest had the greatest impact on me. Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ so that we can better appreciate that which we receive every Sunday. The director of this movie uses a bit of shock value to illustrate that this priest was not playing on a level playing field. But the thing is that the priest isn’t the only one that consumes the Eucharist, all of you do as well. Therefore, as Catholics, when we receive the Body and Blood of Christ, none of us are playing on a level playing field with the rest of the world because we have consumed God himself and are at that precious moment of communion living tabernacles and the very presence of Christ here on earth. Think about that. We take this sacrament for granted so many times yet we are receiving the greatest gift that our Lord gave us. We cannot take this celebration for granted because what we are doing here, what we do around this altar, what we receive from the hands of the priest: my friends, there is NOTHING that you will do this week that is more important than what we are doing as a Body of Christ right now here at this Mass. We receive Jesus Christ. We become living tabernacles of his divine presence in order to transmit this presence into the world. We cannot be ashamed of what we do here. We cannot simply receive this heavenly gift and not share it with others. If you become like Jesus, you have transmit and share this Jesus with the rest of the world. That is the challenge of the Eucharist. It is the challenge we receive at the end of this celebration when we are told to “go in peace to love and serve the Lord.”
So yes, we are not playing on a level playing field because we take with us Christ himself in body, soul, and divinity. This heavenly food should empower us to spread the presence and the Good News of our Lord, for as he gave of himself to us at the Last Supper, we are called to give of ourselves to each other. No other religion receives on Sunday what we receive. No other religion takes with them the presence of the living God. Maybe “doped up” is too strong of a word because of its negative connotation when it comes to athletics. The Eucharist is not going to make us stronger and faster like an athlete, but it is going to give us the supernatural and divine strength needed to conquer the world for Christ.