Children across the faith are looking forward to First Holy Communion,
having completed up to three years of sacramental preparation depending on the
practices of their local diocese. Some of these children will be as young as seven years old and while Church considers seven to be the age of reason, it is important for parents and others close to the Communicants to remember what the Eucharist truly is, and help
reinforce that knowledge every opportunity they can.
For those parents thinking “but my child is truly prepared. My child KNOWS what the Eucharist is,” simply think back to your own experience with First Communion. For many First Communions are simply seen as finally being able to eat the bread and drink the
wine, finally getting a seat at the grown-ups’ table. For others, there is a rudimentary
understanding of the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, while other children, generally older when they make their First Communions, can express a genuine understanding of what it means to take and eat the body and blood of Christ, and to do it in memory of Him.
In the most basic of terms, the Body of Christ is the living presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. We are told by Jesus at the Last Supper to participate in the Eucharist because “he wanted us to have the memorial of the love with which he loved us ‘to the end’
even to the giving of his life” (CCC 1380, John 13.1). But the Body of Christ goes beyond the Eucharist and it is this truth that we as Catholics sometimes ignore.
Jesus tells us in holy scripture that “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” (John 6:57). We hear later in scripture that “Greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). St. Luke reminds us that “the Kingdom of God
is within you” (Luke 17:21). In other words, our bodies are home to the Lord.
Jesus lives in us. Let’s say that again. Jesus LIVES in us.
So what does that mean? For starters it means that we have the ability to do the work of God. We can see people as God sees them. We can love people as God loves them. We can forgive people as God forgives them. We can help people as God would help them if He were here, in the flesh, today. But wait, isn’t He here, in the flesh? In our flesh? Again, as Jesus told us, “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.”
There is song we use in our First Communion programs called “Somos El Cuerpo de Christo”. A bilingual song, it means “We are the Body of Christ”. The fact that it is bilingual is important. The Body of Christ is not an American institution, it is not even a Catholic institution. The Body of Christ is universal and as the song goes on to tell us, “we come to bring the good news to the world.”
The Eucharist is more than bread and wine. The Eucharist is more than the body and the
blood of Christ. The Eucharist is the constant presence of Christ within is, a reaffirmed union with Christ and spiritual strength to carry out the mission of Christ, the love of Christ, and the work of Christ.
St. Teresa of Avila tells us that “Christ has no eyes now but ours, no hands now but ours, no feet now but ours.” What do you see? Who do you carry? Where are you going?