Of all the gifts that God has given his Church, the greatest is without question the Blessed Sacrament, for it is nothing less than the body, blood, soul and Divinity of Jesus himself. In the Eucharistic host, our Divine Savior lives among men in his fullness. He is truly God with us—what could be greater than this?
Characteristics of Jesus in the Eucharist and what his presence can teach us about both holiness and masculinity.
In the Blessed Sacrament, we see the deep humility of Jesus Christ. Here, the Eternal Wisdom of God who made all things, the brightness of the Eternal Father, condescends to come among us in the form of the most ordinary food. After all, bread is simple fare, the food of the poor. Unlike a fine cut of meat, bread is almost always eaten as a side that is not easy to be noticed.
If we are to imitate Christ, we must first and foremost exercise humility. The servant is not greater than his Master. We must give all glory to God, deciding to be humble and unassuming—like a piece of bread.
Men have always appreciated quiet strength, strength that is expressed more by deeds than empty words. In the Eucharistic host, Jesus greets us with complete silence. He is ready to adhere to all that we have to say, and he only speaks in return when we have quieted our hearts and are absolutely silent as he is. And lastly, he is ready to act on our behalf if we only have confidence in his promises.
The saints continually praise the virtue of silence, and we are warned that we will be judged for every idle word. Do we waste words? More than this, do we hear what others are saying? As men, we often struggle to listen, and yet listening is an act of love. Pay attention to your wife or those others around you who may be desperate for someone to pay attention.
In the host, Christ is absolutely vulnerable. Far too often, he is mistreated and abused, ignored and maligned, treated casually and without dignity. Yet, this is the price he willing to pay to live among his people. No matter how many times he is profaned and trampled upon, literally or figuratively, he continues to come to us again and again, saying “I will never leave you.”
Do we love in this way? Do we open our hearts to others, even though it may mean the pain of rejection? Do we forgive 70 times 7? We cannot love if we close our hearts in fear. We must be courageously vulnerable—like Christ.
Christ waits patiently for you and I in tabernacles and monstrances around the world. He would wait an eternity for a single visit. He waits for us to repent when we stray; he waits for our words of allegiance and affection; he waits to hear of our joys and sorrows; he waits to answer our innermost desires.
Like Christ, we too must be patient with others, particularly with those who least deserve it or who try our patience the most. We must also wait with forgiving hearts for those who have harmed or abandoned us to return.
The gift of God’s presence is the greatest gift. To the ancient Israelites, there was no greater calamity than the abstaining of the presence of the Lord. In the same manner, there was no greater comfort than the assurance of his presence.
It is the same today. If we have Jesus, we need all things; without him, we have nothing. Yet, we do not have to travel far to find the presence of Christ—he is as close as the nearest parish, the accomplishment of the ancient “bread of the presence” in the Jewish temple. Nor is his presence an abstraction or an idea, it is real and tangible to our senses. We Catholics can joyfully and truthfully say, “The Lord of hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge.”
If we are to follow Christ, we must be present to those who want us. How many absentee fathers and husbands there are! How many wives and children have been left by the man who is called to lay down his life for them. Are you present to your family? Are your wife and children your priority? If you are a husband and father, your presence is an irreplaceable gift. Be present.