Some of you may have read my monthly Internet columns with the picture of Bill Gates beside them. Well, as you can see, I dont look like Bill Gates! I dont even wear glasses, yet. As I ended that column with links on the Holy Eucharist, I would like to begin this column talking about the Holy Eucharist.
During The Year of the Eucharist that we just completed, I was involved in the construction of our new Saint Joseph The Worker Monastery here in Englewood, Florida. This brought me in close contact with those building the monastery. Some workers wanted to know, "What is a monk?" One of the supervisors of the construction was wondering what that "box" was for in the middle of our chapel back wall. Even though he wasnt Catholic his wife was a very active Catholic in her parish as he informed me. Now I was very happy to explain to him what that "box" was. I told him we call it a tabernacle. And within this tabernacle Jesus dwells. He is there Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity under the appearance of Bread. He looked at me and said very sincerely, "You really believe that?" I answered, "I do". Then the conversation moved onto more mundane construction talk.
Now this isnt the first time I have talked to a non-Catholic about the Holy Eucharist. On another occasion Brother Craig here was interviewed by a television crew for a national show and once again I was asked about that "box". The Jewish director was married to a Catholic. I explained the Real Presence to him, also. In both these instances I fail to see how a Catholic can be married to a non-Catholic and not once explain to them what we believe about that "box" in our churches!
Now you may be greeted with skepticism by those to whom you witness, even a spouse. However, recall what happened to Our Lord when He announced He was the "Bread of Life." (Jn 6, 48) Many of his disciples "no longer accompanied Him" because "This saying is hard; who can accept it?" (Jn 6, 66 & 60) We may be rejected but at least we will have witnessed to the Truth and not hide our light under a basket!
The Gospel of John, Chapter 6 is perfect for discussing the Real Presence with our Separated Brethren. You will note that everywhere else in the Gospels Jesus always corrects or explains to His apostles those things which they do not understand correctly. Jesus does not do so here. He does not correct those who understand Him and leave Him over His flesh being "true food" and His blood being "true drink". (Jn 6, 55) Instead, He further challenges His apostles, "Do you also want to leave?" (Jn 6, 67) He makes it evident He is not talking symbolically here.
I recently heard a talk about something I hadnt noticed in the Gospel of John, Chapter 6. The Chapter begins with the multiplication of the loaves and fish for the multitude. Then we have the account of Jesus walking on the water. The first incident shows that Jesus has power over bread. The second incident, that Jesus has power over the physical properties of nature. These two incidents lead us into the exposition on the Bread of Life. St. John wanted his readers to know that Jesus has the power to do what He said transform bread and wine into Himself. Jesus is truly "the living bread that came down from heaven". (Jn 6, 51)
Recently, I met a man who was wearing a monstrance pin on his lapel. He told me it made for good witnessing among those he met. In this simple way he witnessed to Jesus. Perhaps we too can find ways of witnessing and bringing others to Our Eucharistic Lord!
Brother John Raymond, co-founder of The Community of The Monks of Adoration, received his M.A. in theology from Holy Apostles Seminary.