ETWN LIVE with Father Mitch Pacwa
AND Threshold of Hope also with Father Pacwa:
The reason for this blog is to give my perspective on the question I asked Father Mitch and his guest in the first video. I asked the second question (and the close up wasn't flattering.... I don't look like that in real life....smile....); my question is around the forty minute mark, but the full video is so good I hate for you to fast forward.
The question I asked was for my friend Ricky (currently in RCIA), "If Christ is truly present in the Eucharist why aren't Catholics more Christ-like?"
Since they didn't have time to ponder their answers, I think they answered it well enough, but I have been thinking about this since I was considering Catholicism way back in 2006 or 2007 and I want to give my personal answer to it. However, how truly Catholic my answer is, I just don't know.
Why Does the Eucharist Seem to be Impotent in Changing Catholics Lives?
I would answer this with other questions. Why could not Jesus Christ, Immanuel (God with us) perform miracles in some towns?
And He could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He wondered at their unbelief. Mark 6: 5, 6
Why were not the Jews, even the Apostles themselves, instantly changed by being with Christ day by day? After all, the "real presence" of Christ was there in the flesh, in the form of a human man, daily and few were miraculously changed into saints. In fact, I don't know of any who left Christ's presence on earth who were perfected by it. Zacchaeus promised to be better, and Jesus told the harlot to go and sin no more, and perhaps they were instantaneously changed by God, but we have no record of it.
People walked amongst Christ day by day, heard His teachings and the miracle of His real presence changed only a few, gradually.
The Real Presence Then and Now
Just as the Jews were repulsed by the idea of God giving the world His true flesh and becoming one with us as a man, so are many Christians repulsed by the idea of God giving the world His true flesh and becoming one with us in bread and wine. Both are testing miracles.
I am not saying that one cannot be saved outside of the Catholic Church. But just as the Jews were tested by the miracle of the human Christ, Immanuel, God with us; so too are we, His followers today, tested by the miracle of the Eucharist.
JOHN 6: 31-71
Today, we as Catholics have the presence of Christ with us in the Eucharist. We can stand before God as the Apostles did. And we too can reject the living bread and withdraw from Christ and walk with Him no more, even as mass-attending Catholics.
"Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, 'He gave them bread out of heaven to eat.' " Jesus then said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world. Then they said to Him, "Lord, always give us this bread." Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life ..." Therefore the Jews were grumbling about Him, because He said, "I am the bread that came down out of heaven." ... "I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh." Then the Jews began to argue with one another, saying, "How can this man give us His flesh to eat ?" So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood istrue drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever."
" ...many of His disciples, when they heard this said, "This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?"... As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. So Jesus said to the twelve, "You do not want to go away also, do you?"
Christ called His disciples to "do this in remembrance of me." That means we, as we partake in the sacrament, are to bring to our hearts this precious gift and allow it to change us. We are to actively invite Christ who knocks on our door, to enter and cleanse us of all sins. Jesus says to the lukewarm Christians:
"...you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him." Revelation 3:17-20
When it comes right down to it, repenting is the biggest problem. We want faith only to believe, not faith enough to let Him in that He may rid us of our sins. We don't want to dine with Him for we are afraid of letting go of our sins. We tend to love them or at least depend on them. We cling to them and often it is very, very painful to let them go.
The power of the Eucharist is not to magically make us hate sin, as if God is a type of Bewitched and all He does is twitch His nose and our sins are all gone. The Eucharist is a softening of our stubborn hearts, it is a gentle wooing us to love Him and let go of all things that harm us and others. This takes time, most of us, our entire lives. So we cannot judge other Christians when they partake of the Eucharist. For receiving the True Presence is either making us more stubborn in our sins, or less. You are either drinking life or you are drinking wrath, God's immortality or God's damnation. It is either making you more clouded or Christ-like. And it is not automatic that you receive the life and immortality. That is your active choice.
This is the power of the Real Presence in the Eucharist. And always keep in mind that Protestants are watching you.....