We never forget certain days. They could be historic, like the first landing on the moon, or personal, like your birthday, or a combination of both, like the date of your wedding. More to the point of today’s feast, comes the date of your First Holy Communion. If you’re not sure of that last one, it will be in the church records of your childhood parish. Or maybe in a family Bible. You likely remember some of the details, like your outfit that day, or the name of the priest who administered the sacrament.

Be that as it may, our Church recognizes that the institution of the first Eucharist given at the Last Supper, was overshadowed by the passion and death of the “Master” soon to follow. The annual Holy Week Liturgies reflect this somber note. That is why the Church selects this day to celebrate the miracle of the Mass unencumbered by distraction.

The Resurrection of Jesus validated everything He said or did, and what He said and did that holy night is real and true and wonderful beyond words. And happening again right here and right now at every Mass. We receive the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of the living God! The distance in time and place from the original Mass are of no matter, or “no problem,” as we might say, for God, living as He in the “now” of eternity. Time and distance, so noticeable by us because we are here only for a relatively short time, are inconsequential to Him. Yes, the Eucharist is miraculous, coming to us in great ornate cathedrals or the hood of a jeep by way of a wartime chaplain. We are asked to believe in something that began long ago and far away but is here and now.

Unfortunately, we live in a self-referential era, where we ourselves set the measurement of what is important and what must be believed. What others say, especially if they are in positions of authority, is immediately suspect. And when even the existence of God is brought into question, why hold on to something as old-fashioned as faith? As belief that a wafer of bread and a cup of wine become God Himself for our food and drink. For those who deny it, proof is necessary. For those who believe, no proof is necessary.

So stupendous is the gift of the Holy Eucharist that it has always generated skepticism and developed doubt. Even when Our Lord first announced it, remember how many people no longer walked with Him. Remember St. Peter’s poignant question: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

Unfortunately, the present statistics reveal that up to 70% of Catholics do not believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Our American bishops recognize the problem behind those statistics. Perhaps external causes such as the Covid sudden shutdown of our churches are to blame.

Or the clergy abuse scandal, which still lives on sporadically even though our Church has developed strict new guidelines to prevent it happening again.

But underneath all that is a lack of faith. A faith not backed up by prayer and regular practice of it. Whatever the reason, Satan has been successful with his obvious campaign against Christ in the Eucharist in our own time. So many people have bought into the world’s goals of being rich or powerful or famous, or a combination of them. Easy to become casual and caustic about the Mass and the Holy Eucharist.

I do wonder from time to time what is it that holds God’s hand back. But that only comes when I forget the mercy of God combined with His justice. He alone is our true judge, and only He knows what He is about. Meanwhile we have the saints. A very long list of ordinary people who achieved heaven by their fidelity to the Eucharist when times were certainly tough.

One of them was a man named Thomas, whose doubt about the resurrection made him declare that he wouldn’t believe until he touched the risen Jesus’ hands, feet and side, the noble scars from His crucifixion. Kneeling before the Lord after doing such, he said what we also should when we see the Host and Chalice raised at Mass: “My Lord and my God.”

God love you, and may you treasure your belief.

Rev. Peterson’s Reading & Gospel Summary
Reading I: Exodus 24: 3-8
The “Old Covenant” between Yahweh and His people is ratified.
Moses sprinkles the blood of young bulls both on the altar and on the people.

Reading II: Hebrews 9: 11-15
The sacrifice of Jesus constitutes a truly unblemished sacrificial offering.

The Gospel: Mark 14: 12-16, 22-26
The Apostles secure the pre-arranged meal setting. The meal previews Christ’s death. What He does with the bread and wine seals the new covenant.