The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
Mk 14:12-16, 22-26
June 6, 2021
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has responded to a notice sent to the Vatican by the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Rome urges caution concerning a statement under consideration by certain of the American Bishops, which would impact the access to Holy Communion by U.S. politicians whose public stand on issues relating to the sanctity of human life appear in conflict with Church teaching. This has made the headline news…and will likely continue to be newsworthy…on all networks…regardless of the final outcome.
Thankfully, no one will ask me to weigh in on the matter.
However, should Pope Francis give me a call and say: So, Kelly…what do you think about all this?
I would reply: Your Holiness, at the moment, I am much more concerned about the countless numbers of people who have already been “denied” Holy Communion…by the pandemic.
For months now, access to all the Sacraments has been severely restricted, or completely barred because of Covid-19. Particularly tragic is the fact that the elderly, the chronically ill, and even the actively dying have been deprived of these spiritual comforts. At the moment, things appear to have “normalized” in this country, but in other parts of the world, concerns over health and safety continue to affect the Sacramental life of the Church.
I suspect that Pope Francis would reply by reminding me that it would be wrong to consider those in greatest need of spiritual comfort as having been completely abandoned. Quite possibly, he would refer me to last Sunday’s Gospel (Matt. 28:16-20). When sending the disciples out to baptize “In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” The Risen Christ assured them: I am with you always until the end of the age.
Christ has kept that promise. While the hunger for Eucharist persists, and the company and companionship of the Christian community is definitely missed when circumstances make “in-person Holy Communion” impossible, those in greatest need are never left uncared for. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, the healing and forgiving and nourishing Christ is with them. How can I be so certain?
First of all, God has proven over and over again to be a most faithful Promise keeper. The Lord promised to be with us ALWAYS…why would we doubt Him?
But, Christ’s continued presence among the faithful is also made known by the persistence in faith within the minds and hearts of those Christians who, for whatever reason, have been denied Holy Communion. For example, Eucharist, as well as the other Sacraments, is barred by atheist regimes around the world.
Likewise, Catholics in countries where governments are run by anti-Christian religious leaders find it necessary to revert to the practice of the early Church, celebrating the Sacraments underground at great risk…and then only occasionally. There are remote areas on every continent where sacramental ministry by ordained clergy is infrequent because of geography and demographics. Such under served and threatened Christian communities persist in our faith because Christ remains present to them…forgiving, healing, and nourishing them.
While it is a very serious situation when Catholics who hunger for Eucharist are denied The Bread of Life and The Cup of our Salvation…for whatever reason…the real tragedy is when people deny themselves this “healing remedy.” Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith. And yet, many make a conscious choice to decline the invitation to The Communion Table.
Ignoring the Lord’s command: Do this in memory of Me, they foolishly seek nourishment in worldly comforts. But they are never fully satisfied. Hunger persists because the Risen Christ remains present to them, whispering His encouragement so that they might undergo a change of heart.
Regardless of what prevents the faithful from enjoying the Real Presence of Jesus Christ through Holy Communion, Christians are not denied communion with The Lord. He promised: I am with you always until the end of the age…and He keeps that promise through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
We conclude the last of the three special Sundays that cap the Easter Season by focusing on The Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Certainly, The Real Presence comes to us in the most excellent way, through The Eucharist. But, on this great Feast, we should also remember and celebrate the truth that The Risen Christ is “omnipresent” to all creation. People, circumstances, and even poor choices might serve to deny others Holy Communion…but Christ will not be denied communion with us.