The Significance of the Eucharist

“She has her veil over her face.  What does she think this is? Her wedding day?!”

My children told me about this comment, made about one of the first communicants, whispered sarcastically by an occupant of the pew behind them during my nephew’s first communion Mass last weekend.

Since my husband and I are my nephew’s God parents, we were squeezed into the front pews with the parents and grandparents in the reserved section of the church, appropriately named Corpus Christi.

It is a good thing that I was not sitting in the back with my children (as they commented with relief.)  I tend to get rather annoyed with snide comments made during Mass.  The heckler would likely have gotten an icy stare from me, if not a gruff “Don’t speak about what you don’t understand” remark in return.

I do realize the person’s “question” was “asked” out of ignorance, and it illustrates how great truths sometimes come forth from unlikely sources.  Consider the following passage from Scripture:

“But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year,* said to them, “You know nothing, nor do you consider that it is better for you that one man should die instead of the people, so that the whole nation may not perish.” He did not say this on his own, but since he was high priest for that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation. (John 11: 49 – 51)

It is ironic that this high priest – who out of his ignorance was among those directly responsible for having Jesus condemned to death – prophesied God’s plan for our salvation.

I thought how the back row heckler at the first communion Mass was actually revealing the wisdom of St. Paul from his great Gospel “summa” in Ephesians 5.

“For this reason a man shall leave [his] father and [his] mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5: 31-33)

If you are familiar at all with the Theology of the Body (which is likely if you are reading this blog) you know the catechetical teaching from the late John Paul II explains in detail about the significance of the sacrament of marriage in understanding how God loves his people, especially through His gift of the Eucharist.

TOB proposes that the human body, in its creation as male and female, speaks a language of “self-gift,” because male and female are called to self-giving union with one another in marriage.  Christ, in his death on the cross for his “Bride” the Church, gave himself totally to his spouse, and as Bride, we are called to respond to that gift with our own self-gift of love to God.

In marriage, John Paul II says a man and woman consummate their marriage not only with their wedding vows, but through their bodily “one flesh” union.  Our late pope explains how, in the sacrament of the Eucharist, the members of the Church consummate our marriage with Christ, not only through the vows we make in our Baptism, but through our reception of Christ’s body and blood in the Eucharist, where He enters our souls and we become one with Him.

So the answer to the question asked by the back row heckler is, in fact, “Yes! That is exactly what this is — her ‘wedding’ day!  She is being joined this day with Jesus Christ.”

About Kelly Luttinen

Kelly Luttinen works as a public relations advisor for the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi. She is a wife and mother of four teens and lives in the metro-Detroit area.
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