One significant day, those who gathered around John the Baptist to be baptized in the Jordan heard John speak, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29). We who attend Mass hear the priest invoke this same phrase as he holds up the consecrated host. Jesus, of whom John said, “Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God” (Jn 1:24), is present as the Son of God in our midst at Mass as well.
Jesus is truly present to us in the Eucharist. This is no mere remembrance nor just a symbol. Jesus came to us, to become one with us, show we can be nourished by his very Body and Blood and so become one with him. This gives new meaning to the words we are what we eat! In receiving Jesus in this way, we are transformed and conformed to him so that when we return to our everyday experiences we can see Jesus present in each other. This intimate encounter with Jesus is a gift that we are invited to receive and partake of often, even daily if at all possible.
Many times we struggle in our lives because we may not feel understood or misunderstood, we may not feel accepted for who we are, and/or we feel alone. Jesus is always present to us. Through his physical manifestation and presence in the Eucharist, we are reminded that God loves us so much that he sent his Son to not only be present but accompany us. He understands our trials and tribulations because he experienced them first hand.
As we gather around the table of fellowship to experience the sacrifice of Jesus that is re-presented in his real presence, we experience again that Jesus has died for us that we might have life. He died for us so he could be present to us in the very simple elements of bread and wine anywhere and everywhere in the world, to remind us that we are never alone, that we might be restored to who God created us to be so we can embrace our lives and live them to the full. Pope Francis stated in November of 2018 that, “the Eucharist stands at the very heart of the church’s life. It is a paschal mystery that can enhance the baptized as individuals, but also the earthly city in which they live and work.”
When we come to Mass we do not come for ourselves alone. We come to participate in the heavenly banquet feast that happens on earth as it is in heaven. We come to pray for the salvation of the world. We come to be transformed by the Son of God and as we consume him in such an intimate way, we become more and more conformed to his Body. We do so in such that we may “spread the seeds of a eucharistic culture by becoming servants of the poor, not in the name of an ideology but of the Gospel itself, which becomes a rule of life for individuals and communities” (Pope Francis).
Come to the feast and invite others to join you so that together we may, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29). And know that we are not alone but loved more than we can ever imagine and given the mission to go forth and love others as we have been loved.
Photo: Pope Francis elevating Jesus truly present.