THE REAL PRESENCE

“Come, have some breakfast.”  It’s a simple invitation that Jesus extends to the disciples in the gospel today. They were fishing but they did not recognize him.  And then, after they shared a meal,  none of them dared to ask who he was because they knew he was the Risen Jesus.  They recognized him in the breaking of the bread.  In our Catholic Tradition we have tried to explain the experience that the disciples had as a belief in the Real Presence.  Over the years, this belief has become a central tenet in our faith.  As a result there has been a great emphasis on making sure that our outward gestures give witness to this belief—such things as bowing and genuflecting before receiving communion.  One of the unintended consequences of this has been that we have tended to believe that the “Real Presence” referred only to the bread and wine that became the Body and Blood of Jesus.  The truth is that there is much more to our understanding of the “Real Presence.” 

      Jesus took a very ordinary gesture—eating and drinking—and used it to say something profound about they way He is present in the world.  What Jesus was reminding his disciples is that if you can recognize me in the presence of this ordinary meal, in this ordinary act of eating and drinking, then you will be able to recognize me in  the many ordinary events in your life.  This is where the greatness and powerfulness of the doctrine of the “Real Presence” lies.

       And so it is that we go about our ordinary lives filled with many ordinary people and situations.  But for believers, these situations and people are not ordinary at all.  They are the very place that the presence of God is revealed to us.  And so, each week, when we gather for the celebration of the Mass, we come with the memories of how and where we have seen God being revealed to us.  And we go forth from our prayer with a renewed commitment to open our eyes and hearts so that we can recognize Jesus as he reveals himself to us.  That makes the Real Presence of Jesus even more profound.

 

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