Receiving Christ

As a Catholic, I think the biggest blessing has to be being able to receive Jesus’s body and blood in the Eucharist. Of course I didn’t always see it this way. For me growing up I saw the Eucharist as just another church thing. As I received my first communion I learned more that this was Jesus. But I am a simple boy, and there was no way I could wrap my head around the fact that this was Christ. Now, I didn’t have an amazing experience when I first realized that Jesus was in the Eucharist, but I did gradually realize it slowly over time, with going to youth group and retreats and the Mass. I began to fall in love with Jesus, and if I loved Jesus then of course I began to fall in love with the Eucharist. I don’t know when it happened, but eventually I began to find great joy in receiving Christ. I found myself feeling very peaceful and joyful after receiving, knowing that MY GOD was literally in my body. There was no way we could get any closer. What an amazing gift! I found the more I went to mass and as I walked down the isle to receive him I began to think of myself going to receive my spouse during a wedding. Which was a little weird at first, but it made the moment so much more intimate. I found myself being unable to stop smiling after receiving Him. I was in love, this was my God and He was my strength, He was who I depended on. Of course that feeling isn’t always there. Now, it fades in and out, but I continue to remind myself that This is MY GOD. He is giving Himself to me so that I may be one with Him.

One of the hardest things about being Catholic is not being able to receive, it’s always intimidating when you can’t receive Jesus’s body and blood for whatever reason. We begin to worry about ‘what are people going to think of me, will they think I’m in mortal sin? Will they know I’m in mortal sin? What if they judge me? What do they think I did? Maybe I’ll just receive anyways, or I’ll just go to the bathroom right before we go to receive.’ Maybe others don’t think of this and it’s just me, but either way it’s pretty ridiculous how we worry about our image when going to receive Christ! Even if it’s just in a blessing from the priest.

Just the other day I was at Mission District in Atlanta. For those of you who don’t know what Mission District is, it’s the Life Teen offices in Atlanta that is also a store, and a place to hang out for groups who want to come and do bible studies or small events like that. We also have a chapel with Jesus in the Tabernacle, so sometimes we have priest who come in and do mass for us. Well, we were having Mass but I was in the middle of a meeting with Chris Benzinger. We ended our meeting and I was able to make it to Mass for the gospel. I was so happy because I knew I would be able to receive the Eucharist, I thought I missed my chance. All of a sudden we hear a deep “Hello?!” coming from the store part of mission district. Since I just slid into the chapel I was the closest to the door so I slipped back out, to see who it was and how I could help them.

It turned out to be one of the delivery men who was simply delivering a package. I signed for the package and asked him how his day was going. We had small talk for a little while as he looked at some of the pocket prayer stones that we have for sale on the front counter. He began to tell me a really touching story of him and his wife. He has been with his wife since he was sixteen years old. His entire time being with her she has had asthma and in the later years, she has had to wear hearing aids. But recently one night they were laying in bed and she told him that her heart started to hurt. They went to the hospital and the next day when he came and visited her she had no idea who he was. From the sound of the conversation she has remembered a bit more of her memory but now has different things going on in her mind. Things like hearing voices, and thinking her husband is someone else and that they are living in a different country. Crazy things like that. I was able to talk to him and share some bible verses with him. By the time the conversation ended I invited him back any time he just needed someone to talk to and offered our chapel to him. He was very grateful and was so happy to hear we were going to be praying for him.

By the time I was able to go back into the chapel we were at the ‘breaking of the bread’ after the Our Father and we were about to go up to receive Communion. I wasn’t sure if I was able to receive or not. So when I went up to the priest I simply asked him if I had missed too much of the Mass. He asked me if I was there for the Our Father. I told him no and He said that I couldn’t receive. I was kind of sad as I went back to my seat and began to pray and thank God for the man that I met. But then something hit me. I did receive Christ! I didn’t get to receive him in the Eucharist, but I got to receive him through the man, Willie, I met! The conversation I had was such a blessing I felt like I was able to receive Christ through him! As I thought about this I felt such an overwhelming sense of peace. It made perfect sense.

Matthew 25: 35- 36   “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you made me welcome,  lacking clothes and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me.”

This man was simply in need of someone to talk to about his current struggles, and to be open to talking to him even though it meant missing Mass. God was able to counsel him through our conversation, and through that I was able to receive Christ through him. To this day I am still amazed at and praying into what this means, but so far all I understand is this simple thing:

Christ loves us so much that He gave us His body and blood in the Eucharist and He loves us so much that He wants to be with us completely. But along side with that, God puts people in our lives so that we can receive Him, the way I see it is the Eucharist is the main course. But every single person we meet is a chance for another portion, maybe a side dish or dessert. Every time we talk to someone we have the chance to receive Him! It’s amazing how God is constantly giving Himself to us.

My challenge to you is: Are you going to receive him? Are you just going to look at the Eucharist or that person in Walmart and simply take it for granted? Or are you going to walk down the aisle to the Eucharist and truly see yourself as receiving the bridegroom? When you meet someone, are they just a homeless person, store clerk, delivery person? Or is he/she another opportunity to receive Christ, and to give Christ to others? I challenge you to truly receive Christ, in whatever way He wants to give Himself to you.

Matthew 25: 35- 36   “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you made me welcome,  lacking clothes and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me.”

Your Brother in Christ,

Felix Caro

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