We’ve all heard it before: “You are what you eat.” Never is that more true than when we consume the Most Holy Eucharist. In that small wafer lies an infinite God, an infinite God who laid down His life for our sins.
If you have small children, there are doubtless portions of Mass that are lost amid the squirms, whispers, and worries that come with parenthood. Starting with walking in late and continuing with countless corrections, Mass is often a blur for me. At a recent Mass, sometime during the readings my two year old loudly whispered that she needed yet another potty break. Since we’re in the midst of potty training, I have to take every potty request seriously. As a working mother with lingering health issues following breast cancer, however, I am in desperate need of spiritual aid. Most Masses find me trying to balance mommy duties with spiritual needs. As I looked into my daughter’s eyes, I wondered if she just wanted to run around instead of sitting still. I decided to risk it and asked her to wait until the homily.
At this time in my life, the homily isn’t the high point of the Mass. So as my two- and four-year-olds dragged me out during the homily, I wasn’t too worried about missing it. But then we sat back down to hear the rest of the homily and I was confused when the homilist said, “You are what you eat in most instances, but not with the Eucharist.” He explained that while we transform our regular food, the Eucharist transforms us.
I keep thinking about what that homilist said. As I’ve pondered, “You are what you eat” in relation to the Eucharist, I can’t help but think about a hymn that claims, “We are Christ to one another.” Of course we’re called to be Christ-like, but actually being Christ…? Seems like a stretch. The same is true of the Eucharist, though. The fact that the thin wafer created by human hands and consecrated by the power of the Holy Spirit becomes Jesus’ body is just as unbelievable. Yet, I often feel like that conversion is more possible than me becoming Christ to someone else. Through God all things are possible, but does He really want millions of us to think we are Christ?
Again, we are called to be Christ-like, but considering ourselves or others as Christ just seems more like self-grandiosity and less Christ-like. Even Christ Himself did not consider equality with God something to be grasped (Philippians 2:6). He called the disciples to emulate Him, not pretend to be Him. Christ even chastised those who considered their closeness with Him to be a competition (Mark 9:34). How much more so would Our Lord disapprove of us calling ourselves Christ?
Though my participation at Mass is limited by child distractions, I am confident I am following Christ’s commands to bring the children unto Him (Mark 9:35). When I partake of the Eucharist, I am called to be transformed by it to a greater extent than any other food I eat. Just as saliva and digestive enzymes prepare food for my body’s use, the Liturgy of the Word and Liturgy of the Eucharist prepare my soul for the transformation Christ wishes to effect in me.
If my diet consists of unhealthy foods, I will become sick and unhealthy. In the same way, when our spiritual food is unhealthy, we are more vulnerable to attacks by Satan. One of Satan’s first attacks seeks to separate us even further from the nourishment of the Eucharist and other sacraments, because Satan cannot be in the presence of God without shrinking in fear and awe. Let us all remember that each time we partake of this Heavenly meal, we are filled with God’s true presence.