Center and Root of the Christian Life (3)
Rev José Mario O Mandía
We have seen that the Eucharist is (1) the SACRIFICE which Jesus OFFERS and where He is OFFERED; that it is a (2) a BANQUET where Jesus is food that is RECEIVED. Moreover, (3) Jesus – disguised as bread –stays behind with us in the tabernacle: the Eucharist is also GOD’S PRESENCE to be adored. Thus, the Code of Canon Law uses three verbs to summarize the Eucharist: OFFERED, RECEIVED and CONTAINED.
In the Old Testament, God commanded the Israelites through Moses: “make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst” (Exodus 25:8). From chapters 25 to 27 of Exodus God describes how He wants the sanctuary to be built. In chapter 28 God lays down what clothes the priests had to wear (including specifications for the undergarments!). What was the penalty for not dressing according to God’s instructions? “They bring guilt upon themselves and die” (Exodus 28:43). In those times, priests could not dress any way they liked. However, God’s presence among the Israelites was only a symbolic presence. But His presence among us now is a REAL presence. “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)
Some Catholics have the great habit of dropping by the church to make a short visit to Jesus, who has been “waiting for you for twenty centuries” (St Josemaría).
St John Paul II wrote in Dominicae cenae: “The Church and the world have a great need for Eucharistic worship. Jesus awaits us in this sacrament of love. Let us not refuse the time to go to meet him in adoration, in contemplation full of faith, and open to making amends for the serious offenses and crimes of the world. Let our adoration never cease.”
St Paul tells us that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:6-11). In the Blessed Sacrament, we not only have the name of Jesus, but Jesus Himself. Let us not forget to bend our knees. It is a good physical and spiritual exercise.
Pope Benedict had once remarked: “Kneeling does not come from any culture — it comes from the Bible.” Wise men knelt (Matthew 2:11), Peter and the apostles knelt (Luke 5:8; Matthew 28:17), lepers knelt (Matthew 8:2), rulers knelt (Matthew 9:18), Gentiles knelt (Matthew 15:25), men possessed by the devil knelt (Mark 5:6).
Jesus not only “knelt down and prayed” (Luke 22:41). “He fell upon his face in prayer” (Matthew 26:39; cf Mark 14:35).
How about us?
There is one who will never ever kneel. ‘The devil has no knees,” wrote Abba Apollo, a desert Father of the Church who lived around 300 AD, “he cannot kneel; he cannot adore; he cannot pray; he can only look down his nose in contempt. Being unwilling to bend the knee at the name of Jesus is the essence of evil. (cf Is 45:23, Rom 14:11)”
Some say that by spending time in adoration we neglect our neighbor. If that were the case, Mother Teresa would not have been serving 517 missions in more than 100 countries by the time she died in 1996. Adoration makes us love God’s image and likeness in our neighbor.
I once read this piece of advice, “The shortest distance between a problem and its solution is the distance between the floor and your knees.”
“O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand” (Psalm 95:6-7).