When we enter a Catholic church, we sense something special. Our genuflections may be half-hearted but signify something of importance. Even if the tabernacle is not before us, we know there will be a Blessed Sacrament chapel somewhere.
By what logic does the Almighty and Eternal God come to us with such consistent availability. A few words from Saint Thomas Aquinas are helpful “God, wishing to enable us to share in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that, by becoming a human being, he might make men and women gods”. God’s overflowing love, like irrepressible tears, cannot be held back. Against such generosity our own efforts look shabby and inadequate. Yet the torrent of love keeps flowing. This should encourage us. “Holy communion is not a reward for good boys and girls but food for the needy”. Who among us is not needy?
“To make men and women gods; divine!” One of the Fathers of the Church taught that, when we receive the body and blood of Christ, we slowly become what we receive. What we receive is divine food; the body and blood of the Lord. We are constantly told: “certain foods harm us; other foods make us healthy”. We must add: “divine food divinises us; receiving the body and blood of the Lord conforms our life to that of Christ”. This is what the phrase from Hebrews is talking about. ”The blood of Christ,” which we receive from the chalice, “can purify our inner self from dead actions”.
The history of salvation, from Abraham and Moses to today, via the Old Testament, the life death and resurrection of Christ and 2000 years of Christianity, is the story of God trying to get closer and closer to human beings; to become more intimate with men and women. Could God get closer than in the Eucharist?
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Ian Tomlinson SJ