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The Catholic Moment: Eucharist – food, not reward

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

By Father Rob Waller

The holy Eucharist is not a reward for saints; it is food for sinners.

Jesus did not die on the cross for us because we deserved it, but so that we might be declared deserving. He did not allow His body to be broken for us; He did not pour out his blood for us because we were worthy, but to make us worthy.

In the same way, the Lord does not allow His body to be broken for us on the altar; He does not allow His blood to be poured out for us on the altar because we are deserving or worthy. He knows that we are neither, which may be the very reason why He wants so badly to come to us and to receive us into communion.

On occasion, sometimes in the sacrament of reconciliation itself and sometimes in a conversation outside confession, people will bear their souls about a burden that they are bearing because of something that they have done and that they now regret terribly. They often say that they felt so bad and were so sorry, but that they “went to Communion last Sunday anyway.”   

They wince when they make that last statement, assuming that they have sinned further and expecting to be scolded. But like many priests I say, “Good! You needed Communion then. Maybe more than you ever needed it before, you needed Communion. Maybe at that moment you were more worthy to receive than you have ever been before. It is good that you received Communion. You were hungry. The Lord wanted to feed you.”

At Mass on Sunday, right after the priest tells us, “Happy are those who are called to his supper,” we admit, “O Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.”

When we are weary, weak, worried and worn — when we know, really know, that we are not worthy — it is then that the Lord wants most to give himself to us.

The Eucharist is not a reward for saints; it is food for sinners. “Take, and eat. Take, and drink, all of you.”

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