If every time we sit at the table there are beans in front of us, we might be tempted to say, “What, beans again!” Eating the same thing over and over can become boring. Not so with the Eucharist. Holy Communion can never be taken for granted.
Receiving the Body and Blood of Christ is not something we deserve, but a privilege. We all presume that we are all here for the same reason. Like when we attend a wedding reception. Some folks know the bride and groom intimately or they are related. Some are neighbors. Others come for the music and dancing. Holy Mass is like a banquet which draws all sorts of people—the ones who have an intimate relationship with the Groom and those who come but do not feel connected. No membership is required. The good, the bad and the indifferent are invited. God does not discriminate. We tend to put people into categories: nationalities, educational level, economic status. That’s what the folks from Capernaum did to Jesus. “We know this guy! He’s the son of Joseph. Remember that Mary was pregnant before she got married.” They thought that they had Jesus all figured out. Prejudice did not allow them to see the moment of grace that Jesus offered. The shields were up. So they were unable to appreciate the Bread of life. The home-town folks were too busy murmuring. Our modern definition of murmuring is “chisme”. Gossip is usually a group effort—spreads faster than the wild fires in California. Gossip tends to be negative. In one felt swoop, years of a good reputation can be demolished. Jesus was a victim of gossip but He never gave up on the people who spoke badly about Him. In spite of their rejection He offered Himself to them, “I am the bread of life.”
Jesus did not condemn the murmuring crowd. He did not judge them for their ignorance. On the contrary, He offered them the ticket for eternal life. Unlike most of us who get offended when someone disagrees with our opinion, Jesus came to show us how to rise above public opinion. “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” Words have the power that we give them. What we allow and what we reject depends on our self-esteem. If our value comes from our achievements we will be lost. If our value comes from God’s love for us, we will have eternal life.
The ego can play all sorts of tricks on our psyche. Feeling of being worthy or unworthy come to mind during Holy Mass. Distractions of what people are wearing, where they are sitting, who is with them can draw our attention. If we are distracted during Holy Mass it is because we have forgotten about the Groom—the One who invited us. Since we enter into familiar ritual we tend to go on automatic pilot. Notice the excitement of people who come near the Holy Father. They shout, the scream, some cannot control their emotions. Pilgrims travel to the Holy Land to touch a rock, to peek into a grave, visit the place where Jesus turned the water into wine. Not discrediting the Holy Father or places of pilgrimages—we have someone much more precious at every Mass. The living bread that comes down from heaven is made manifest right before our eyes. The eminent danger is our indifference. No clouds, no thunder, no earthquake—only the promise of the One who forgives our distractions.
We want to focus, if only for a moment, on what is really important. The invitation is to believe in the One sent by the Father. His flesh is all that we need.