Our Lord Jesus desires to commune with us, His body gathered for worship, wanting very much to be in an intimate relationship with each of us. Our parish takes His invitation seriously, working to reveal Christ’s presence to us in every celebration of the Mass. He promised to be in our midst where two or three are gathered together in His name (Mt 18:20), and He can be seen, heard, tasted and felt through four different sources during each liturgy. Our level of awareness depends on our openness to His real presence.
The first source is us, the gathered assembly. Because we are the Body of Christ, His Church, each of us is called to manifest His presence and to be Christ for one another. We may welcome each other by moving into the center of the pew to allow others to more easily find a seat, and we proclaim Christ’s real presence with our full, active and conscious participation in the liturgy.
Christ also is revealed through the presider of the Mass, the priest, who is the head of His body now gathered. As the head, the priest calls us together and unites us with Christ and all the angels and saints in one unending hymn of thanks and praise. Through his prayerful work, we are privileged to be made One in Christ, to be taught by Christ through his homily, and to be fed by Christ at the Eucharistic table. Christ does through the priest what He did for his disciples.
The third way in which Christ is really present to us is in His proclaimed Word. With Vatican II the Liturgy of the Word was elevated to a balanced relationship with the Liturgy of the Eucharistic, rather than being seen in a supporting role. Christ speaks to us through the lectors and the deacon or priest proclaiming the Gospel, as well as through our united sung response in the responsorial psalm. He speaks to us in the homily, applying His Word to our lives today. We are not simply hearing about God; He is speaking to us directly.
The fourth way is the most mysterious and wonderful way, in the consecrated bread and wine. The same Holy Spirit who hovered over chaos at God’s command, creating the heavens and earth and all that inhabit it, now hovers over bread and wine, changing its substance from just bread and wine into the very heart and soul of Jesus. We now behold His very self, given once again to us as food and drink in shared communion, so that once consumed, we can break and give ourselves as Him, to His beloved world. Something cosmic happens on the altar during the consecration, and if we recognize this, we are changed.
Jesus Christ is sacramentally present during our celebration of the Eucharist in four unique ways: in the assembly, his Body scattered, now gathered; in the priest presider, the head of the assembly, Christ, now present through him; in the Word proclaimed; and most specially, in consecrated bread and wine. Jesus Christ is sacramentally present to us, so that we might become Him, broken and shared so that God’s Kingdom will come on earth, as it is in heaven!