Distraction and the Greeting Line

The Last Supper, Museu de Évora

A while back, as I was returning to my seat in the pew after receiving Communion, I suddenly became aware that I couldn’t recall standing up, walking forward in line nor the moment I received Him in this most Holy Sacrament—I was too distracted. What was worse is that I couldn’t even recall what I was thinking about during those moments! I had traded in my attention and gratitude to our Lord and His unbelievable gift for something not even worth remembering a few moments later. I felt horrible! I prayed that God would forgive my distractedness and have since received Him more mindfully at Mass.

“How many times have I treated you as a dead object?” — Vinny Flynn

Maybe you can relate to my experience. Each week, we stand, go forward and receive the very Lord of creation, the Savior of the world, and we do it all the while thinking about what time the football game starts, what we will have for lunch, or wondering why so and so didn’t shake my hand at the offering of peace. We are distracted. And if we don’t realize what is actually happening, we certainly cannot have the appropriate response!

Perhaps a good way to envision going to Communion is to think of a greeting line. As we approach the host of the banquet, we are thinking of what we will say to him, deciding what we will share of ourselves. When the moment arrives, there is joy at being recognized—of being known and welcomed. The host is so grateful for us celebrating with him, and likewise we are so grateful for having been invited. There is a mingling of what we share and likewise, what is shared with us. Now imagine that this banquet was for all those that the host has saved from death; that he has offered a chance at new life. How focused would we be on the moment we get to greet the host? And yet, that is exactly what happens each Mass. Even more than that, this Host not only shares Himself with us, he desires to become one with us! Wow!

7 Secrets of the EucharistThere are many great books written about the Eucharist. One of them seems applicable to our tendency towards distraction. It is entitled 7 Secrets of the Eucharist, by Vinny Flynn. The first of these secrets is that the Eucharist is alive. Flynn laments, “how many times have I treated you as a dead object?” As Catholics we know that the bread and wine truly become Jesus’ Body and Blood. But even to acknowledge this reality is not enough. Flynn asserts, “The Host we receive is not a thing! It’s not a wafer! It’s not bread! It’s a person—and He’s alive!” Eucharist is truly His Body and Blood, but not some inanimate body—He is alive! The more we become aware of this reality, the more we can have the appropriate response—thankfulness (the word Eucharist means thanksgiving). As we go forward this Sunday, and every Mass afterwards, may we be truly excited to greet the host of the banquet, to receive the Host that has truly become the Living God!

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