In giving out Holy Communion last Sunday I came to a man who hesitated in putting out his hand, leading me to suspect that he wasn’t Catholic, and that he hadn’t done that before. I went ahead, giving him the host. Now, since I have nothing worthwhile to say about today’s readings, let me go back to three quick thoughts I had at the moment I gave that man Communion.
First, I thought that while the church tells us not to give Communion to a non-Catholic, it does not tell us to deny Communion to one whom we suspect of not being Catholic.
Second, I thought that man’s soul might be cleaner and holier than mine. Those two thoughts are what would occur to any one us. My third thought was unusual.
My third thought was that Jesus might have been anxious to be united with the man.
That thought takes me back to a line of thought I have been harping on lately, namely the thought that our Mass must be seen as rooted in the table blessing Jesus offered at the Last Supper. That blessing had three parts.
At the first part of the blessing, the host asked the guests to recall the favors they had received from God. At the second part of the standard table blessing he asked them to join him in asking God to come and be in their midst.
At the third, the key and culminating part of the table blessing, the host asked the diners to submit their wills to God so that they might join him in becoming one pleasing gift to God. (The Greek word for “pleasing gift” was Eucharistae.)
At the Last Supper it was at that third part of the blessing that Jesus took bread, broke it, and gave it to the disciples. Writing in Greek, both Paul and Luke wrote that it happened eucharistesas, or when Jesus came to the Pleasing Gift.
Our Lord’s reason for giving himself to the disciples precisely then was that he wanted them to be physically united with him in one Pleasing Gif to the Father.
The reason Jesus gives himself to us at the culmination of the Mass is that he wants us to be physically united to him in one Pleasing Gift, in one Eucharist.
Getting back to that doubtfully Catholic gentleman to whom I gave Communion last Sunday, my third reason for giving him Holy Communion was that Jesus might have longed to become physically one with the man.