Yesterday I had the opportunity to get up WAY too early and drive 3 hours to Richmond in order to be at the priestly ordination of my good friend Tom Lawrence — who is now Fr. Tom Lawrence — the newest priest of Jesus Christ in our diocese.
And though I am now currently paying dearly for driving those 6 long hours for a 2 hour liturgy — believe me… I’m one TIRED PRIEST — it was still worth it.
Because the Holy Eucharist is the most powerful thing in the world.
And without ordained priests, NOBODY gets to have this incredible, and all powerful gift of the Blessed Sacrament — the living Body and Blood of our Lord that heals us, nourishes us, takes away the sins of the world, and above all — reveals God’s unstoppable and everlasting love for each one of us.
I wonder though — Do we ever forget how powerful the Eucharist really is?
I was talking with a friend of mine from seminary the other day, and he shared what he heard a priest say once, which really struck me.
“Sometimes I wonder if we believe more in the power of Tylenol than in the power of the Eucharist!”
Think about how crazy that is for a moment! When we have a headache, and pop a few Tylenol extra-strength — don’t we just assume and actually really truly believe that the medicine will do its job? That it WILL in fact help our headache go away?
What about the Eucharist?! Do we come to this holiest of Sacraments with that same level of belief? The same level of trust?
St. Ignatius of Antioch once referred to the Eucharist as the “medicine of immortality!”
St. Thomas Aquinas says that “no other sacrament has greater healing power; through it sins are purged away, virtues are increased, and the soul is enriched with an abundance of every spiritual gift.”
THAT is way better than Tylenol. And yet how easily we overlook or dismiss the great power of the Eucharist in our lives!
Then again… it’s so easy to overlook, isn’t it? The Eucharist still looks like ordinary bread and wine. The miracle of consecration, of transubstantiation, doesn’t seem to change anything at all!
There’s no thunder and lightning, like at Mount Sinai, when Moses came face to face with God and received the Law. There’s no smoke and fire, except the little puffs of incense from the thurible! There’s no booming voice from Heaven, except what our microphones might produce!
When I come down off this altar to offer you the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ — the Blood of the new and eternal covenant — my face doesn’t shine like Moses’ face once did.
What I’m getting at is: It’s not easy to believe in the power of the Eucharist.
Especially today, when skepticism is the immediate reaction to just about EVERYTHING. People today scoff at any claim that is not demonstrably and unassailably obvious to our five senses or the fruit of scientific research.
In the Holy Eucharist, something unthinkable has happened: The omnipotent Son of God, the Word made flesh, has managed to hide Himself in almost complete obscurity. God is here among us, but He is silent — silent as bread.
In a homily, Monsignor Ronald Knox once said that Christ “lives there [in the Tabernacle] very quietly, a prince in incognito…” “Oh we try to make the best of it with gold and marble and precious silk, but [our Lord] has chosen simple things, common things, to be the hiding-place of his majesty.”
In other words: Jesus in the Eucharist looks totally powerless.
Maybe that frustrates you?
“Jesus in the Tabernacle is so silent and still,” you might say! “All I see is a closed door. Nothing happens! “The Mass is so repetitive,” you might say. “I get so tired of the same thing over and over every week!” “I can’t even see the Monstrance, that person’s head is in the way!” “I don’t feel anything when I receive Holy Communion!” “I still sin! I still fall away from God! “How can the Eucharist really be so powerful?
How can this be God?”
Good. Ask those questions. Because if we are honest, how many of us, if given unlimited Divine power, would choose to wield that complete, total, and overwhelming power in such a simple, seemingly powerless way as the Blessed Sacrament?
It’s almost laughable.
But isn’t that the mystery of the Cross?
Christ had unlimited Divine Power.
And yet, as the Scriptures say, he “did not count equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, and taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.”
Unlimited power — emptied.
Unlimited power — wasted!
Unlimited power — laid aside freely.
And it was all out of love for you.
That incredible scene from the movie, The Mission, comes to mind here — where the priest missionary played by Jeremy Irons, is walking calmly into oncoming bullets and bombs holding up the Blessed Sacrament exposed in the Monstrance.
That is the Power of the Holy Eucharist.
That’s why we celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi. Our conviction that Jesus is alive in the Eucharist is a bold and defiant truth. It is a belief that taunts death and boasts in God’s sovereign power alone.
Now more than ever, we as Catholics need to ask the Lord for a rock-solid, supernatural faith in the unstoppable power of the Holy Eucharist. We need to humbly ask the Holy Spirit for greater receptivity, so that when we receive this heavenly food, this Bread of Life — it might really change us!
The world is becoming more and more hostile to our faith. The family is under attack. Human dignity is being thrown out the window. The culture of Death is dominating. Children are being indoctrinated with bizarre philosophies about who they are and what the meaning of life is. The path ahead is hard to see. The future is scary.
And yet! In just a moment, you’ll hear Jesus say those words again out of humble love for His Father and for us, his flock:
“This is my Body. This is my Blood.”
And that is the most powerful thing in the world.