Catholicism is troubled. The Pew Research Center (Transubstantiation) discovered that
“Just one-third of U.S. Catholics agree with their church that Eucharist is body, blood of Christ”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church proclaims that “The Eucharist is ‘the source and summit of the Christian life’ (CCC 1324). Some Christians think that the “real presence “ is the secret sauce that makes the Eucharist ‘the source and summit of the Christian life’ (CCC 1324). They are badly mistaken. Something else does. The “real presence” is not enough. There is a detail about God in the most Holy Eucharist that gives significance to the “real presence”.
The doctrine of the real presence of God in the most Holy Eucharist barely skims the surface of God. It approaches God on a tangent. It gives God only a glancing blow. It does not dive beneath the surface of God. The ‘real presence’ is a doctrine that, while true, hurts rather than helps our understanding of God. It hides rather than reveals God to the children of Adam and Eve.
The doctrine of the real presence presents God to the children of Adam and Eve as a quivering blob of green jello - faceless - incognito - anonymous - silent. Our God is trying to speak to us through the most Holy Eucharist. Unfortunately, the doctrine of the real presence gags the God who wants to speak to us. It makes God mute. it stifles him. The doctrine of the ‘real presence’ does, indeed, make the most Holy Eucharist special but it adds nothing - no details - to our understanding of God. Under the doctrine of the ‘real presence’, in order to add to our understanding of God, a process of osmosis is at work whereby proximity to the real presence somehow mysteriously improves our understanding of God. Jesus, however, was not so subtle. He was explicit. Through his bloody wounds, Jesus preached the good news of great joy. Jesus brought the body and blood to Mass in order to repeat the good news of great joy to us.
The evil that we did to Jesus on the road from the Crucifixion to the Resurrection opened the mouth of God. HIS BLOODY WOUNDS ARE THE MOUTH OF GOD. Jesus spoke to us through his bloody wounds. "Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4). By his bloody wounds we are healed (Isaiah 53:5) (1 Peter 2:24).
Witness the truth by watching the traffic through his bloody wounds.
Buckets of blood spilled through the wounds that our evil opened in his body. On a cataract of blood, his life itself followed his blood through his wounds and out of his body. But not a drop - not a drop - of his love for us did likewise. His most Sacred Heart stayed filled to the brim with love for us (John 13:1). Because his most Sacred Heart stayed filled to the brim with love for us, he was able to say, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Forgiveness was the sweet fruit of his love for us. Isn’t a tree known by its fruit (Luke 6:43-45)? We tortured and killed him. He suffered and died. Yet, he did not stay dead and he did not stop loving us. He emerged from the dead still alive and still in love with us. That he emerged from the dead still alive revealed to us his power. Nobody emerges from the dead. He did. That he emerged from the dead still in love with us, however, revealed to us something more significant about divinity than power. Our conception of divinity as power is incomplete. Divinity is also love - a mysteriously intransigent, inexplicably persistent and radically stubborn love (Isaiah 55:8-9) (Psalm 8:4-8).
In the brutal circumstances of the Crucifixion, Jesus gave our faceless God a face. He turned our faceless God into a God whose face had features. The face that Jesus put on God was the face of forgiveness (Luke 23:34). To know forgiveness is to know God. Jesus leveraged our understanding of forgiveness into an understanding of God. Ponder this: the brutality of the Crucifixion makes the intransigence of his love for us extraordinarily amazing. No brutality; no amazement. Brutality + intransigent love = WOW!
The Mass is the vehicle that God uses to distribute across time and space to the children of Adam and Eve the good news of great joy. Jesus released the good news of great joy into the Valley of Tears out of a violent collision between himself and the evil we did to him on the road from the Crucifixion to the Resurrection.
Jesus deposited his body and blood into the bread and wine of the Most Holy Eucharist (Mark 14:22-25). His decision to use body, blood, bread and wine was not random, accidental, arbitrary or capricious. Jesus deliberately picked the four elements of the most Holy Eucharist to
pinpoint the LOCATION at which Jesus revealed the nature of God to the children of Adam and Eve (i.e. where Jesus spilled the beans about the nature of God —-where Jesus dropped a bombshell of revelation about God into the Valley of Tears) and
to emphasize the IMPORTANCE of the revelation.
The BODY AND BLOOD of the most Holy Eucharist point us to the LOCATION at which Jesus gave us the good news of great joy. The connection between his body and his blood is his bloody wounds. His wounds stand between his body and his blood. On the road from the Crucifixion to the Resurrection, we punctuated his body with bloody wounds (John 20:24-29). At first, his bloody wounds were a question mark. They marked a mystery. 'What answer would Jesus give us in response to the evil that we did to him?' We did not know what his answer would be because we did not know our God. Our God was a stranger to us. We assumed our God was like us. The reasonable expectation was that the evil that we did to him would trigger his reflex for revenge, retaliation and retribution. "An eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot" (Exodus 21:24). Thankfully, he did not respond to our evil in kind (Isaiah 55:8-9). He changed the tone of the conversation (1 Kings 19:11-13). His answer to the evil that we did to him was asymmetrical - radically asymmetrical (Isaiah 55:8-9) (Psalm 8:4-8). Our God is no longer a stranger to us. By his answer to the evil that we did to him, we now know our God. His bloody wounds turned into exclamation points. They emphasize the fact that our God is the God who forgave us for the evil that we did to him (Luke 23:34). His bloody wounds are the badges of forgiveness. Put your fingers into the print of the nails and thrust your hands into his side and live (John 20:24-29). Explore his bloody wounds. The wise anchor their understanding of God to them.
The BREAD AND WINE of the most Holy Eucharist point us to the IMPORTANCE of the revelation. Without consuming food and drink, we die of hunger and thirst. Without consuming the meaning of his bloody wounds - the message of forgiveness, death is just as certain.
What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? (Psalm 8:4)