Today – in a rather pointed rebellion against Protestant boredom – we celebrate the fact that Jesus Christ meant what he said and said what he meant, when he told that confused and bewildered crowd to eat His flesh and drink his blood. It’s really what separates the person of Christ from the “good moral teacher” the crowds of the world wish to consecrate Him into. No matter how peaceful and tolerant the lecture, and no matter the extent to which you are convinced that he “just wants everyone to get along”, if your good, moral teacher ends his lessons by offering his own flesh to eat, chances are you’ve missed something. (“Alright class, your homework will be due on the 7th, make sure to write it in pen, and eat my flesh and drink my blood, you’ll live forever, and I’ll see you next week.”(Hehe))
You’ll notice that my Lenten promise of posting everyday was yesterday destroyed by a twelve hour workday and a midnight holy hour, but since it was destroyed – in part – by the adoration of the Lord of the Universe, if you get mad at me, thou shalt be smited on. He told me something painful to hear, this Eucharistic God, as I struggled believe in His real presence:
Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save,
nor his ear too dull to hear.
But your iniquities have separated
you from your God;
your sins have hidden his face from you,
so that he will not hear.
For your hands are stained with blood,
your fingers with guilt.
Your lips have spoken falsely,
and your tongue mutters wicked things.
It really is Lent, when God gives the “it’s not me, it’s you” speech. But how true it is! If we turn away from God with our hearts – if our lives and our pasts run away from him – then to face him in the Eucharist is a contradiction of intent. We are at war with ourselves – how can we be open to the peace of His presence? Realizing this makes the Catholic teaching, that you cannot receive Communion in a state of mortal sin, light up with sensibility, because you cannot reject God with your life and accept him with your hands. You cannot spit him out spiritually and chew him physically, for what peace can be found in that war of spirit and flesh? It’s tough to hear, but such hope ensues! For I do believe that God’s words through the prophet Isaiah are words of laxity, not harshness. He does not say, “You cannot see my face because you are of infinitely less intelligence and cannot possibly comprehend my Love.” or “You cannot receive my consolation because you aren’t really convinced in my Eucharistic presence.” No. We’ve sinned. And that’s something we can fix, something we – by grace – can change. In fact, we can be reconciled to God rather easily, thanks to this whole Crucifixion thing, and the establishment of a Church with the power to forgive sins. Isaiah offers us this hope:
The LORD looked and was displeased
that there was no justice.
He saw that there was no one,
he was appalled that there was no one to intervene;
so his own arm achieved salvation for him,
and his own righteousness sustained him.
Like a pent-up flood, yes, yes, yes says my heart. What are the areas in our lives that we dam God’s grace? (Don’t act like there aren’t any, I’ll smite you.)
It’s happy, happy thought, to realize that God is held back be these, that He is forced against walls that – if we were to crack them but a little – would crumble under the might of his love and mercy. Think of that, the next time you see God in the Eucharist. There, contained in a piece of bread, is a pent-up flood. Release it, for our God is humble beyond reckoning, and waits for our decision.