I am fortunate to be able to serve as a Eucharistic Minister in my parish, which means I have the great responsibility of carrying Jesus to my community. I help the priest serve the Body and Blood of Christ to the people in the pews, much like a server in a fancy restaurant takes the work of the chef out to the customers. Here are some of the great lessons I’ve learned while holding Jesus in my hands and sharing Him with others:
- Jesus is truly present. When we serve Jesus to our parish, we say, “The Body of Christ. The Blood of Christ.” Far from being a repetitive phrase, I am reminded with every word that I am holding Jesus’s Body. I am sharing my Lord with another person.
- Jesus knows everyone’s name. He loves everyone equally. That is why, although it seems kind and personal to say someone’s name when serving them Eucharist, extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist are not supposed to.
- We are what we eat. We say it when we’re talking table food, and it is as true if not more so when it comes to the Eucharist. When we consume our Lord’s Body, we become members of the Body of Christ. When we carry Jesus within us, we are expected to act as Jesus would on the outside. This is the reason, not exclusivity or pride, that non-Catholics are not invited to receive the Eucharist. How can you become part of the Body of Christ when you aren’t a member of His Church? How can you receive when you don’t believe? It is not to keep people out that we do this, but to make it mean something for those who are “in”.
- We are called to carry Jesus to the world. When we walk away from the communion line, we carry Jesus within us. We are His hands in the world, His feet, His mouth to minister to a godless culture. We become the Body of Christ when we consume the Body of Christ. We must – must! – remember this and live it as we leave our parishes and go out into the world. We carry Jesus. Let us behave as if we are worthy of His presence.
The following are some habits I have when I serve Eucharist. They’re not anything I’ve been taught, not Church teachings by any means, but they show how important I think the Eucharist is and how I try to share that with others:
- I value touch. I make sure that my hand touches the other person as I lay Jesus’s Body in their hand. When I was a server in a restaurant, I tried not to touch anyone’s food but often utilized a quick touch on the arm to connect as humans with my customers. How much more so does touch make a difference when serving the Body of our Lord?
- I use eye contact. I make it a point to look every person in the eye, deeply. I see so many different emotions there, from joy to sorrow to indifference. I try to communicate the magnitude of what we’re doing with my eyes. I’m serious to match my tone of voice saying, “The Body of Christ,” yet I often purposely put a smile in my eyes to communicate the joy we ought to feel, that we are chosen to receive Christ in the Eucharist. Since I don’t say the names of people I know personally, I can tell them, “Hello!” with my eyes.
- I pray for the communicants. Not so much in words, even in-the-head words, but more in a groaning of the spirit as St. Paul teaches in Romans, I pray for the people receiving Jesus in my line. I ask God to change their lives by this Eucharist. I ask Him to enter into them and make them holy. I beg Him that they would believe they are truly receiving a miracle, the Body and Blood of Christ.
- In my weakness, sometimes I judge. I notice the low-cut shirts or the funny-shaped nose, or I silently condemn the jeans-clad teenager or the screaming toddler before I can even censor my thoughts. My mind drifts to how cute those earrings are or how many kids that family has. *sigh* I thank the Lord that He forgives me in my weakness, and I yank my thoughts back to the task at hand: serving Jesus, literally.
Copyright 2010 Katie Kimball