The Eucharist and Christmas

Posted on December 14, 2021 by Published by

Fourth Sunday of Advent – Year C

When Mary greeted Elizabeth during the Visitation, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.” This encounter between Elizabeth and Mary, between Jesus and St. John the Baptist, is both amazing and joyful! Our souls, too, should be filled with such joy during every celebration of the Eucharist because we encounter Jesus—our Lord and God—and receive Him directly into our hearts, souls, and bodies.

When I celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, I often observe that only a few people fully realize or understand that Jesus Christ is truly present in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. Frequently, I notice that parishioners minds are occupied with many thoughts and very little space is left in their hearts for longing, joy, and gratitude that arise from faith. This pushes me to ask: “Where are our poor human hearts during the Mass? Do we really long for and anticipate our encounter with Jesus? Are we open to the Holy Spirit?” I realize that emotionally we do not always feel happiness or joy, longing or anticipation. Events happen in our lives that make us sad. But even in suffering, the miracle of encountering and receiving the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord in the Eucharist is still that—a MIRACLE! Yet, often our hearts are closed and occupied during the Mass and we just go through the motions without considering and realizing Who truly comes to us during the Eucharist. With absent minds and occupied hearts we mechanically receive Jesus in the Eucharist.

Advent is a special time to prepare for Christ’s coming both at Christmas and in the Eucharist. God knew that if He had come to us in all of His glory in His Incarnation, then we would be terrified and frightened of Him. For this reason, Jesus came to us as a small, defenseless child, so that the world would receive Him with joy, openness, and sincerity. Jesus—the Son of God and Son of Mary—also comes to us in the Eucharist. Here, too, Jesus comes in the form of Bread and Wine as someone who is defenseless, gentle, and humble. During the remainder of Advent, let us realize the gift before us, open our hearts, and invite Jesus into our souls. Let us greet such a Loving Savior, like St. Elizabeth and St. John the Baptist, with great joy and gratitude.

Let us long for Jesus and, when He comes, let us tell our Gentle Lord: “Jesus, welcome to my heart. Make it Your home, and help me to follow Your will.”

Yours in Christ,
Father Arthur

Readings for the Fourth Sunday of Advent: Lectionary 12

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