What Happens in Communion?

30 Dec

communion_elements

Some time back, I wrote to you about a very special moment, when at Mass, the words of consecration suddenly sent me into the depths of reflection:

   “… this is my Body given for you.”

And later, these words “came alive:”

      “… this is my Blood which will be poured out for you and for many …”

He freely gave up his Body. He freely poured out his Blood — for you, for me, for many.

I recall how these powerful words made me realize that somehow I have to give up my body and pour out my blood for him – and for you.

And later, these words of worship blasted through a blockade of distraction:

“… may we be counted now and until the day of eternity among the members of your son, in whose Body and Blood we have communion” (Fourth Eucharistic Prayer).

“Members of your Son:” As Christians, we have no other identity. Apart from Christ the Lord, we do not have kinship with the Father; we are not filled with and transformed by the Holy Spirit. Sometimes, we speak so glibly of the Body of Christ, as though it were distinct from ourselves. But if you want to touch the flesh of Christ, reach out and hold someone’s hand. If you want to see Christ, look at your pesky neighbor or the homeless person on the side of the highway – or, look in the mirror!

“In whose Body and Blood we have communion:” Here, the notions of “going to communion” or “receiving communion” become totally inadequate. To be sure, in going to communion, we express an act of faith in the Real Presence. And just as surely, receiving communion unites us with God and Church.

But the real blessing and mystery is this: In his “Body and Blood we have communion.” This calls us to more than a passive reception of  the Sacrament. If we “have communion,” we are drawn into the very essence of Christ and his family of faith. It can no longer be “me and Jesus.” It is Jesus and us. It is Jesus who, in us, brings the good news of salvation to the world. It is Jesus, in us, who heals the sick, comforts the bereaved and sheds divine light into the darkest corners of the earth.

Indeed, “May we be counted now and until the day of eternity among the members of your son, in whose Body and Blood we have communion.”

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