The Eucharist is Jesus' risen body
Summer softball for SAA Young Adults: any SAA young adults interested in playing some softball this summer, please email me (go to my profile for my email address). We'll play games on the Athletic Field, and then maybe get together for some refreshments afterwards!
When I introduced myself the first weekend here, I mentioned that for the first twenty years of my life, I thought that the Eucharist was just a symbol of the Body and Blood of Christ. I'm sure, at some point, that I'd been taught about the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, having been raised in a strong Catholic home and gone through fourteen years of Catholic school. I just didn't get it.
Years ago, a study revealed that about 70% of Catholics believe that the Eucharist is merely a symbol, a representation of Christ's flesh and blood. From where did I get this erroneous understanding? From where do the 70% get it? There are, at least, a few possible answers, but these are more rhetorical questions than anything for my purposes here.
It was pretty much one conversation with a priest that changed my understanding, and changed my life. Fr. Tom Wells was a good friend with whom I played golf regularly (the 19th Hole was our favorite), went on beach trips, and discussed everything under the sun - religion, politics, sports, etc. He was a great priest who was brilliant, funny (probably the funnest person I've ever met), holy, and a 100 % believer in the Eucharist.
One day when I was twenty-one, I was sitting in Fr. Wells' office, shooting the breeze with my buddy. I somehow blurted out, "well, you know, Father, the Eucharist is just a symbol". "What??", he said. "It's a ...symbol?", I said very shakily. He replied in a very casual but firm manner, "Greg, 'this is my body' means 'THIS IS MY BODY'". I was simultaneously dumbfounded, intrigued, inspired, and curious the moment these words registered in my mind and heart. That was the moment the light bulb went on: FINALLY, I GOT IT!
We continued talking about how the Eucharist is really Jesus' Body and Blood. Fr Wells explained to me that Jesus doesn't die over and over again at every Mass; Scripture says that Christ died once and for all (see Rom 6:10, Heb 7:27). The Eucharist that is present on the altar at Mass, in the tabernacle in the Church, and that we receive in Holy Communion is the RISEN body of Christ. This realization changed my life (I will write more about this in a future post).
"The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world" - Jn 6:51.