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The Eucharist

Joseph A. Hickey

Throughout my life I have been a laborer, of the blue collar variety, you might say. I have worked hard since I was 18 years old, as an electrician, and installing alarm systems, tiles and carpets. During these past 12 years, my daily life has been one of hard work, exact measurements, and hands-on experience. Never trust any measurement you think is correct, unless you check it three times, is the basic rule of thumb.

My belief in the Eucharist is, therefore, a hands-on one. What is the Eucharist? It is more than a symbol, I know that! If it is only a symbol of the presence of Christ, then it is a poor one. A crucifix reminds me more clearly of Christ; a statue or a picture also reminds me more of Christ than does a small round piece of unleavened bread. If at all, it is a symbol.

If the Eucharist simply is a sign of a community, shared faith, then it is once again a poor one. Why not have a regular meal, with real food? A good Saturday night at a sports bar is more moving than Mass as a "meal", if it is only a sign of community! If the Eucharist is only these things, then it fails, at least to a man used to hard work and exact measurements. But, if it is the Body and Blood of the Risen Lord; if it is as the Gospels say the Real Presence of Him who created us and redeemed us by His Blood on the Cross, then it is believable. God's greatest works are done in unnoticeable ways. He spoke to Ezekiel, not in the storm or earthquake, but in the whisper of a breeze. He saved us, not by heavenly theater, but by sending His Son to be born quietly in an obscure village of a woman of no social standing or power. He paid for our sins dying as a sacrifice, but as someone of no importance to the world, ignored. So now He should come to us in the same manner, and remain with us in a way He can get into our bones and into the folds of our soul. He comes as food. God who humbled himself to be born of the Virgin, who further humbled himself for us, his imperfect image, becoming the divine food needed to transform us into himself.

Why do I believe this? Because it makes sense and because this is what the Church has believed from the beginning. The Letters of Paul, the Gospels, the earliest Church worship, prayers and writings, all speak of the Eucharist as the true Body and Blood of the Lord. They believed simply because the "measurements" were right -- the Lord said it was so: "Take and eat, this is my body; take and drink, this is my blood."

For a working man, that is pretty exact for me to make the Lord in the Eucharist the center of my life. The reason why I am becoming a priest is to serve Him who humbles Himself every day for love of me.

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