My heart was complacent.
I was 22, my faith in God lurking under an infantile grasp of providence. Prayer was a heavenly vending machine — I tossed quarters into the slot, pressed a few buttons and waited for my answers.
This had always worked before. It worked so well, in fact, that I grew up surrounded by miracles. My sister was healed as a baby; my father survived several brushes with death. And like every other Catholic in the pews on Sunday, I watched the bread and wine become the body and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ.
The divine had become the mundane.
This is why I found myself seated on the floor of the university gym, incense burning my nose. Everyone else knelt in adoration of the most holy Eucharist. Hot, tired, and a little dizzy, I wiped a trickle of sweat from my brow. God would want me to be comfortable, wouldn’t he? He wouldn’t care if I was sitting down.
Five years later I was tending to my father in the last few months of his life. Part of his decline involved the inability to swallow. He received nutrition through an NG tube. More than anything, my father longed for the Eucharist. Lately, his requests had been met with a gentle “No.” But his constant pleas for the body and blood of Jesus eventually swayed the hospital chaplain.
He agreed to give my father a bit of Viaticum.
The outcome was not what any of us anticipated. After Father left, the nurse came in to check Dad’s vitals and administer his medications. She noticed a tiny white speck on his tongue, removed it, and threw it in the trash.
I walked through the doors at the end of the hall and could hear my father wailing.
“Jesus! My Jesus!” Over and over again.
I jogged the last few steps to his room.
The nurse was on her hands and knees digging through the trash. She looked at me, wide eyes brimming with tears: “I’m sorry,” she said. “I didn’t know.”
Words escaped me. My father’s pain was palpable, a visceral reaction the likes of which I had never seen. He was devastated, not only because Jesus had been discarded, but because he felt his insistence at receiving had been the cause of our Savior’s desecration. My father knew he wasn’t capable of receiving, and yet his heart desired it so much he thought he could will it into being.
In that moment I understood the magnitude of Christ in the Eucharist
I reeled at my audacity on that gym floor years ago, demanding that my Lord and Savior meet me on my terms.
I should have been on my knees. I should have been humbled by His presence. But I was only concerned with my own comfort, denying the reality that my Jesus was before me, body and blood, soul and divinity.
My father’s anguish revealed to me what he had always known. The Eucharist is never about us. It is about Him, the God made flesh within our midst. We are humble creatures. Through the sacrifice of the Mass, he comes to offer a share in his passion, his death, and his resurrection — all that we might live eternally with Him.
When we stand before Christ in the most holy Eucharist, we must not let our hearts grow complacent.
Drop to your knees. Lay your brokenness at the cross. Call out to him: “Jesus! Oh, my Jesus!”
He is there. He is real. He is present.
Don’t let the divine become the mundane.
How do you encourage devotion to the Eucharist?
Copyright 2018 Ginny Kochis