God is an author–and a clever one at that. Christianity is in itself the most astounding paradox; the Old and New Testament forever linked together with undeniable parallels. If something is broken, God fixes it, and often in an echoing fashion. He is the master of turning a sin into grace, especially the first sin.
Have you ever considered the fact that the first sin was the act of eating? One bite of one apple, one small act of disobedience, and the whole world was changed for all eternity. In this one act, sin and therefore death was brought to the world.
It is no wonder the act of fasting carries such weight in the way of shaking sinful habits. And I can attest–I fasted for a whole week at the start of Lent. I have been meditating on this ever since.
Of all the horrible sins, all the atrocities that humans commit against one another and God, taking a bite of food was our downfall. How strange to ponder this. Of course, Adam and Eve had food aplenty in the garden of Eden. God did not deprive them in any way, but simply commanded them to not eat from just one tree. Mankind fell.
But in His true fashion, Our Father had written that this sin, the desire to eat, would be reciprocated in the most precious of the sacraments. While the food eaten in Genesis was poison for the soul, the food eaten in the Gospels is the antidote.
“Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.’” Luke 22:19
Bread and wine. Simple sustenance for man, and at that moment, it became life-giving. Christ showed us that the paradox of striving for a throne in Heaven, one must humble himself to the lowest of the low. And that’s what he does at each mass: he humbles himself to exist in the most modest means of food for the soul. The apple brought sin; the bread gives grace.
Today we commemorate the Last Supper, when Jesus Christ instituted the Eucharist on no uncertain terms. “This IS my body,” and he meant it.
Every Sunday, I get to witness the miracle of consecration as the priest raises bread to heaven and the bells ring, where regular, earthly objects become the true Body of Christ. Or, as G.K. Chesterton so accurately says, “Jesus Christ just walked into the room.”
The Eucharist is difficult to accept. Even followers of Jesus left him at this teaching:
”As a result of this, many [of] his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.” –John 6:66
But it is beautiful to behold. I never grow tired of witnessing and pondering the miracle that happens in every Catholic church across the globe. When one delves deeper into its mystery–like the knowledge that before there was a Bible (around 300 years after Christ’s death) the mass was how he was remembered–it draws one’s soul ever-nearer to the altar.
In a time when Christians so vehemently boast a “personal relationship” with Christ, I feel very blessed to accept him in the Eucharist, where he is living in me. You can’t get much more personal than that.
Our Almighty God draws parallels evident throughout the Old and New Testament. The seeming lunacy of consuming Christ’s Body is perhaps why it is so much closer to the truth than anything “logical,” for our Lord is never lacking in irony. His mysteries will continue to delight us until he calls us home.
On this Maundy Thursday, may you ponder the wholesome truth of our (quite pitiful) human condition: needing bread for our bodies to live, and needing the Blessed Sacrament for our souls to live.
“It is one thing to say, ‘The spirit of Jehovah pervades the universe.’ It is quite another to say, ‘Jesus Christ just walked into the room.'”