Jesus called the disciples to rub their noses in the injustice that others failed to notice. “Look, He said, this poor widow gave all she had; while others give what they could afford—from their surplus wealth.” Jesus wanted the disciples to be agents of change. In the Kingdom of God the last will be first and the first will be last. His teachings made people feel uncomfortable. Jesus challenged folks to change. Nobody likes change, especially when the change has to do with our religion. Yet, our Church has evolved and will continue to grow. Some are old enough to remember when only the priest distributed Holy Communion. Imagine where we would be now if everybody had to receive Holy Communion only from the priest. We are grateful for the service of extra-ordinary ministers of Holy Communion. Yet, regardless of who gives us Holy Communion, the Sacrament is the same. The presence of Christ does not depend on the worthiness or unworthiness of the minister nor the recipient. We try to do our best to focus on the One that we are receiving. Naturally there are distractions—all the more reason to bring ourselves physically and mentally to the moment of the most perfect communion with Christ. When we hear, “Body of Christ or Blood of Christ.” Our response is “Amen.” A small word with much meaning. In essence Amen is our profession of faith—“I believe.” We are saying, “I believe that this is no longer a piece of bread, but the Body of my Lord. I believe that this is no longer a sip of wine, but the Blood of my Lord.” We transcended our reality into the heavenly Banquet.
According to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, the communicant may choose whether to receive the Body of Christ in the hand or on the tongue. Notice that the ordinary way is on the tongue throughout the world. The United States and a few other countries have an indult—a permission to receive Holy Communion in the hand. So if you cross the border into Mexico, it is not allowed. If one chooses on the tongue—just open your mouth and stick out your tongue after you have said, “Amen.” When receiving in the hand, the communicant should be guided by the words of St. Cyril of Jerusalem: ‘When you approach, take care not to do so with your hand stretched out and your fingers open or apart, but rather place your left hand as a throne beneath your right, as befits one who is about to receive the King.” (Show right hand under left and then with the right place the host in the mouth. Show that we should not lick it off our hand.)
Both hands need to be used. If a person is left-handed then the left hand is placed over the right. But don’t reach out with one hand. If we are holding a child, the recommendation is to take Communion on the tongue, since one hand is occupied. The host is not a medal or the rosary to bless ourselves. The consecrated host is the Body of Christ to be eaten. We need to consume the host right away and not walk away with it. A sign of reverence can be shown before receiving the Lord by a slight bow or a profound bow before our turn. In other words, as the person receives before us, we make the reverence. Otherwise the minister might miss our mouth or we might hit the chalice with our head. Genuflection is discouraged because we can trip the person behind us. Kneeling on both knees is greatly discouraged, if not prohibited for the same reason. Best to do what everybody else is doing, otherwise we call attention to ourselves and not to the Blessed Sacrament. If we have guests from other religious traditions we can invite them to come forward and cross their arms to receive a blessing. Intinction—or dunking the host in the Precious Blood can only be done in rare cases and is discouraged. A communicant can never do that for themselves—only the priest or extra-ordinary minister of Holy Communion.
The widow gave everything she had. Christ continues to give Himself for us that we might have life.