B Cycle – Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ 21
Mk. 14:12-16, 22-26
The presence of Jesus in the Eucharist has always been professed as incontrovertible truth. Yet, we know from a Pew Research survey done in 2019,70% of practicing Catholics do not believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. That fact alone should make anyone wonder about the effectiveness of this feast in opening unseeing eyes of those who do not believe. This is not a new challenge for God or Jesus for this unbelief was the motivation to have him crucified. This struggle to believe in Christ’s presence in any form is the challenge of Christians everywhere.
It makes you wonder how many of those following Christ as he preached, taught, and healed were seeking something to confirm what he was offering them was an absolute truth. The scriptures clearly state the disciples struggled with their own lack of understanding about who he was and what he offered them. Why wouldn’t we have the same doubts and disbelief? We are in need to have our own encounter with God to solidify our beliefs. This is why the gospel stories of the healings, the miracles of feeding thousands, the changing water into wine, or how Jesus challenged the “rigid’ thinking about the laws ability to change us is so critical to our belief today.
Jesus in his own words came to show us the Father and to remove the barrier of sin which prevents us from embracing what the Father offers us. Why do we so easily believe Jesus is present to us in prayer, in nature, or in the words of the scriptures but not in the Eucharist? What did it take for the disciples understanding of what happened in that upper room the night before he died to become clear and move them to proclaim him as Lord? We need that “ah ha” moment, where we suddenly grasp the meaning of his death for us and for our relationship with God.
I believe we can come to mass seeking an encounter with God, but our doubts prevent us from experiencing it. Did God really mean what he said to us? Are the words the devil said to Adam and Eve which planted the seeds of doubt in their hearts, being said to us?
There are hundreds of those challenges for us as we attempt to experience the presence of God’s love for us. We are not alone in wondering about our failings. Did Peter ever expect Jesus to forgive him for his denying to know him? Did he ever expect to be able to stand before others and proclaim him as risen and as the Messiah? Did the woman at the well expect to be offered a new life just because she encountered Jesus? Did any of the disciples ever expect to see Jesus again after the crucifixion?
What makes us any different in our doubts about Christ’s presence to us and among us. The scriptures show us how important it is for us to have an encounter with Christ to move us from doubting to proclaiming him as Lord. If we receive the Eucharist without believing Jesus can and will reveal to us how much God desires intimacy with us, then we are going to continue to struggle with believing in salvation, mercy, forgiveness, and restoration. God desires to change our hearts and have us feel the depth of his love for us and daily seeks to have us respond to his invitation.
We should be just as amazed that Jesus should seek us out to offer us what we desperately need. He is not a distant God but one who is still seeking intimacy with us and seeking to reveal God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness to us. Out mind set should be to attend mass because we expect an encounter with the Spirit who will open our hearts to feel God’s presence, open our ears to hear his invitation to come and to glorify Jesus as the source of all we seek.
If we do not seek, we will be traveling our own path of salvation not God’s plan. We need to acknowledge we are at mass to have an encounter with God in the Word and in the Sacrament. But it does not mean we can neglect the rest of the mass which gives us an opportunity to encounter God as we worship in song and through the prayers. When we join with others as a community actively participating in all aspects of the mass we are brought together as the Body of Christ and feel the presence of God.
In the meantime, it is up to the 30% of us who believe to be the leaven that impacts the 70% who have doubts. It is up to us to be the leaven which impacts the rest of the body. It is up to us to be the salt which seasons our worship creating a hunger for the banquet God prepares for us. We are the witnesses of Christ’s presence because we are he witnesses of how God’s love for us will overcome our doubts and changes us to conform to the image of Christ. That is exactly why ordinary bread and wine can be changed into the body and blood of Christ so we can feast on God’s love for us.