The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life – it is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ. It is also one of the most misunderstood aspects of the Catholic faith. Both Catholics and non-Catholics have many questions about the Eucharist – what it is, the Scriptural basis for our belief, who can receive the Eucharist, etc. And while apologetics and catechesis about the Eucharist is important, it is also important to remember why Jesus gave us this most beautiful gift.
Recently on Go Ask Your Father™, Msgr. Stuart Swetland reflected on the fact that as we seek to understand Holy Communion, we must always remember that receiving the Eucharist is about relationship.
“Our faith is about relationship,” he said. “It’s not magic, it’s not that you have to do a certain amount of things in a certain way and then you have life with God. That would not be relational, that would be something akin to magic, or transactional.”
“That’s not authentic faith, that’s not authentic religion, that’s not Christianity. So the Eucharist and receiving the Eucharist is about relationship. It’s about becoming one with the Lord.”
Just as with any relationship, the more you know someone the more intimate and deep your relationship can become. So it is good to learn about Jesus in the Eucharist, and seek to understand this great gift. And the Church has many guidelines, teachings, and rules when it comes to Holy Communion, for the good of our souls. But just as a marriage is more than a legal and logistical aspect of life, so too the Eucharist cannot simply become a legalistic ritual or a philosophical idea.
Msgr. Swetland pointed out, “So often questions that some people may have, other discussions about religion, veer so far off of the relational aspect that we’re into things that either become very legalistic or very problematic. Because it’s not couched in the proper way of thinking about things, which is relational.”
“What Jesus is teaching in John 6 is about the intimacy of our relationship with Him, that is given to us in the Eucharist,” he explained. “Receiving Communion is akin to becoming one flesh. It is becoming one flesh with the Lord. It is akin to the marital act where we become one flesh. God gives us and opens us up to relationship with Him.”
“That’s what it’s about. It’s becoming one with Our Lord. Jesus Christ is the bridegroom, His bride is the Church. He lays down His life for her and they become one in the Eucharistic sacrifice.”
Listen to the full reflection below: