We normally receive the Eucharist once a week, some do so more frequently, receiving the Eucharist on a daily basis. “Give us this day our daily Bread”… “I am the Bread of Life” says Jesus, “who eats my flesh and drinks my blood…will dwell in Me and become one with Me”.
In the Eucharist, we receive Jesus in his totality. There are no half-measures in the way that God gives Himself to us. This is His part in each and every Eucharist.
And for our part, we certainly receive Jesus whole, but we do so according to our capacity to receive Him and this depends on the degree of our transformation in Him. This capacity should grow. In order to let our “capacity to receive Jesus” grow, we need to enlarge it by our concerted effort to Listen to His Word, that is, Lectio Divina. This is why Jesus Himself did not start by saying to us: first you receive Me and the Father, but: first you have to listen to My Word, then we come and dwell in you:
“If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word;
and My Father will love him, and We will come to him
and make Our home with him.” (John 14:23)
One Step Deeper
Let us delve deeper into the queston, “Who is Jesus?”, the “Jesus” we receive in the Eucharist. When I receive Communion, what is happening? Whom am I receiving? What does it mean? What are the implications? What are the further possibilities?
Jesus is our Way. He states it very clearly: “I am the Way”. What does it mean? It means that following Jesus is a Journey, a Journey of transformation, of growth. Step by step, we let Jesus grow in us. We follow in Jesus’ footsteps. It means that He himself made the first full Journey: He opened the way, a new way for us, leading us to the Father, to the Fullness of transformation.
In this sense we never receive the Eucharist twice in the same way. In between two Communions, we are supposed to grow, and the Eucharist itself is helping us in our journey of transformation as well.
If we consider the shape of the full journey of spiritual growth we have just seen in the previous chapter, we will remember that this Journey is Jesus Himself, Jesus-the-Way, Jesus the Goal of our life (Union with Jesus), and the final Goal of our life, namely, the fullness of love which entails dying of love, the giving of our life.
Jesus is not only our Life, but He allows His own life develop in us. This is His will.
So, in each Eucharist, we paradoxically receive Jesus as a whole, but assimilate only one small part, the part that makes us take one step forward: the daily Bread, the spiritual undertaking of growth of the day (see Mt 6:34).
However, do we actually realise that the One we receive in the Eucharist is the Journey, and that the Eucharist is the Promise that we are called to reach Fullness through the reception of Jesus?
Indeed, in the Eucharist we receive all of Jesus, the entire Jesus-Way, the entire spiritual journey of growth. Each and every time. At each Communion.
Indeed, we receive all of Jesus. This, then, constitutes God’s part in the process.
But we may remain stagnant, not growing spiritually, not having a greater capacity for reception. We then remain in the first stages of the Journey: the “Purification of the Sense”, and we do not progress from that stage.
Is this how we are meant to live? Is this how we are meant to receive?
Significantly, the question we now need to ask ourselves is: Why do we reduce our Eucharist to the “crumbs” of “Jesus-the-Way”?
Why do we not really fully believe in the Eucharist? In the Eucharist in its ENTIRETY? Why do we not work on receiving it always in a fuller way?
Each Eucharist is actually a Promise that we will reach the Fullness of the Journey (see link), on earth. Therefore, we should not be postponing anything to “after death”. Do we really believe in the true meaning of the Eucharist? This is why we are constantly being reminded, by the Church, that our vocation as Christians is Holiness. What is “holiness” if not “the fullness of the realisation of the Journey”, “the fullness of the efficacy of the Eucharist”: a Meal we partake of as we progress on our way, as well as the Fullness of Jesus Himself to be received totally in the fullness of time.
Living for less, asking for less, hoping for less, working for less denotes a lack of Love says St. John of the Cross, and it is “hurting the heart of God” and shows a lack of understanding of His Will.
A most telling and moving expression of this is to be found in the autobiography of St. Therese, who at the age of seventeen, read a description of the full journey on how to reach the fullness of Love: she simply believed every word and said, “I want all that (I have read) to be realised in me”. “I want it all.”
To me this is astute discernment at its most simplest and most poignant.