HOLINESS. What would one do without Holy Communion? Asks Msgr John Wynand Katende
“Like the deer that yearns for running streams, so my soul is yearning for you, my God. My soul is thirsting for God, the God of my life” (Psalm 42:1). Beyond all that we hunger and thirst for is the hunger and thirst for spiritual nourishment. Yet, some people are not aware that this exists.
The word of God is considered to be the basic spiritual nourishment for a believer. According to St. Peter, if we want to grow as we should, we ought to feed on God’s Word just as a newborn baby desires to be fed. Indeed the scriptures are inspired by God to give formation to our faith and to equip us for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16).
It is for realisation of, yet, another kind of spiritual food that Jesus instituted Holy Communion/Eucharist to feed our starving souls. The Eucharist is a three-in-one mystery. It comprises of the Body of Christ (Corpus Christi), Eucharistic sacrifice and the Real Presence of Jesus in this Sacrament. As God is everywhere, the Eucharist ensures that we can encounter Jesus from any place (Psalm 139).
The Holy Eucharist both is a sacramental banquet and a sacrificial offering. As a sacrifice the Eucharistic celebration is a re-presentation or re-enactment of Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary, completed in His Resurrection. We offer Jesus’ sacrifice to God the Father for the remission of our sins, using signs and symbols.
The Jews offered animal sacrifices to God, believing that life was in the blood, and the animal blood was a substitute for human lifeblood. Following this Jewish tradition, Jesus offered his own lifeblood as a substitute for the lifeblood of all human beings and, so, sealed the New Covenant made between God and humankind, bringing new life to the world (1 Corinthians 11:25).
Sacrament is a Christian rite that is believed to have been ordained by Christ and that is held to be a means of divine grace or to be a sign or symbol of a spiritual reality for our salvation. The Eucharist is a visible sign that gives us God’s grace and God’s life and as a meal to nourish our souls (John 15:4). It is the abiding presence of a loving God as Emmanuel (God-with-us). Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist during his Last Supper and commanded his disciples to repeat it in his memory.
Theologically, Jesus’ miraculous feeding of 5000 people by multiplying five loaves of bread and two fish prefigured of Jesus’ gift of the Eucharistic bread that would spiritually nourish those who believe in him (Luke 9:12-17). It is a never-ending supply of bread with which Jesus fed the multitude prefigured his own Body, the consecrated Bread that sustains us until he comes again.
The feast of Holy Communion reminds us to receive Jesus, not merely as a matter of routine, but with true repentance for our sins, due preparation and reverence and spending time adoring him in the Blessed Sacrament. By doing so, we become Christ-bearers as Mother Mary was, with the duty of conveying Christ to others at home and in the workplace. We do so through love, mercy, forgiveness and humble and sacrificial service.
Holy Communion is a great mystery because during the Eucharistic celebration the substance of bread and wine are converted into the substance of the risen Jesus’ Body and Blood, while their appearances, bread and wine, remain. We believe in this miraculous change (called Transubstantiation), because Jesus unequivocally taught it and authorised his apostles to repeat it.