Today, as we begin the sacred Paschal Triduum, we give thanks to God for two great sacraments established by Jesus Christ to help us live our lives in holiness and perfection – the Eucharist and Priesthood.
The night before Pope John Paul II’s funeral, Rome was filled with an estimated 5 million pilgrims who had come for the funeral Mass. Wherever they were gathered, all over the city, the whole night through, you could see priests hearing confessions in makeshift, outdoor confessionals, with signs around their necks or hanging from their chairs listing the languages they spoke.
In the morning the Good Morning, America interviewed one of these priests. He was tired, hungry, and unshaven, but his eyes were glowing with joy. They asked him what he had been doing all night. “Hearing confessions in the streets of Rome,” he answered.
“Old people?” they asked. “Some old, mostly young,” he responded.
The interviewer then asked, “We know that young people liked John Paul II because he was a celebrity. But why would they want to go to confession? Don’t they all want to change the Church’s teachings about sin anyway?”
The priest smiled and said, “The only thing these kids want to change is themselves. And John Paul II reminded them that, with Christ’s grace, they can. That’s why they came to confession.”
The show cut immediately to a commercial.
The priesthood is God’s way of being present in our lives as a teacher, father, and guide, without overwhelming us. He sends his graces through priests, real men we can relate too. No more thunder and clouds of fire and smoke, as in the Old Testament. He lowers himself to our level, so he can raise us to his level.
This is the gift Christ left us all in the priesthood: a powerful, sacramental, living and breathing help along life’s difficult path: a gift that both proves we are loved, and strengthens us to love. A gift that help us to change and to come closer to God. Pray for your priests and for new good vocation.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the first-published book of The Chronicles of Narnia, is a fantasy novel for children by C. S. Lewis. In that book we can read that one of the characters, Father Christmas gave Lucy little diamond bottle. It was full of fire-flower juice, which could cure any natural wound. When her brother Edmund was dying after the battle, she gave him just a little, seemingly insignificant drop. He swallowed it and he was saved. Fantasy or reality?
We all dream about such a super healing medicine and remedy. And not only for our body – also for our hearts and minds, and souls. Is there such a super healing medicine to heal us? Who can heal this deep wounds in our spirit?
Jesus himself can heal us, by giving us the medicine of the Eucharist in Holy Communion.
The Eucharist is the supernatural medicine Christ has left the Church, the little, seemingly insignificant morsal that he applies to all of our spiritual wounds, to heal us from our fears and doubts, so that we can let ourselves be loved by Christ, and become strong enough to love like Christ.
The Lord is inviting us today to renew our beliefs. He wants to remind us that the Eucharist is the perfect summary of this dynamic, intimate relationship with Him.
As Christians, we must build our lives around Jesus Christ, who is truly present in the Eucharist. And so nothing else should take precedence, nothing else should be more important to us.
It is not difficult to make the Eucharist the center of our lives. For most of us, it means simple things, like receiving Communion regularly and worthily, going to confession beforehand if necessary.
It means trying to get to Mass more than just on Sundays. It means including Mass and Holy Communion in birthday and anniversary celebrations and other special occasions.
It means carving a few minutes out of our busy schedules to come and sit with the Lord, to drop by the Tabernacle, where Jesus is always waiting for us, praying for us, and keeping the gifts of his grace ready for us.
As we receive the Lord now in Holy Communion, let’s thank him for all he has done for us, and let’s renew our commitment to do more than just be nice, to be true followers of Jesus Christ, to keep him in the very center of our lives.