Jesus is closest when we receive him in the Eucharist

| Deacon Neil Bakker | June 4, 2015 | 0 Comments

“Sing, my tongue, the Savior’s glory, of His Flesh, the mystery sing; of the Blood, all price exceeding, shed by our Immortal King, destined, for the world’s redemption, from a noble Womb to spring” (Hymn Pange Lingua, St. Thomas Aquinas).

June 7 is the feast of Corpus Christi, the day we reverence, adore and give thanks to God for the tremendous gift of the Eucharist in our lives.

Jesus so intensely desires to be near us that he makes himself present through his very Body and Blood in the most holy Eucharist. This desire has been eternally present and was foreshadowed in Moses’ proclamation, “For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon him?” (Deuteronomy 4:7). Brothers and sisters rejoice; we are that great nation!

But you might be asking yourself: “If Jesus wanted to be close to us, why did he have to leave us and ascend to the Father?”

We find the answer in the letter to the Hebrews: “He entered once for all into the sanctuary, not with the blood of goats and calves but with His own Blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption” (9:12). In the Old Covenant, the sins of men were assigned to the animals that were sacrificed to God in the temple. The sacrifices of young bulls were “communion offerings to the Lord” (Exodus 24:5). Christ ushers in the New Covenant by taking on the sins of men and making himself the sacrifice. This is what it means to say that Christ is the Lamb of God; he is that new sacrifice.

Now, having ascended to heaven, Christ is seated at the right hand of the father, and his priestly ministry endures, as does his sacrifice. He entered the heavenly sanctuary in order “to appear in the presence of God on our behalf” (Hebrews 9:24). He stands before the father, hands outstretched, displaying the man-made wounds inflicted upon him, interceding on our behalf.

It is through our participation in the most holy Eucharist that we are drawn up into Christ in heaven. The Lord is never more near us than when we receive him in the Eucharist.

After having received our Lord in the Eucharist at Mass, take a moment in the pew to picture this closeness of Christ and how you are drawn up in him, into that heavenly banquet where he stands before the father on our behalf.

“Down in adoration falling, this great sacrament we hail, o’er ancient forms of worship newer rites of grace prevail; Faith will tell us Christ is present, when our human senses fail.”

Deacon Bakker is in formation for the priesthood at the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. His teaching parish is Holy Cross in Minneapolis. His home parish is the Cathedral of St. Paul.

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Category: Sunday Scriptures