Today (Friday) is my normal day off and I decided to take a road trip to Sacred Heart Retreat Center in Sedalia. Unfortunately, so did a high school group of about 50 loud teenagers. I gave reading and contemplating the old college try but finally gave up.
So, I packed up and did something I’ve not ever done before: I went to mass. (I think I was in a reflective mood and a bit disappointed by my Sacred Heart experience). I arrived in downtown Denver just as the noon mass was beginning. The audience was an urban garden of people.
Without a program, I followed the lead of an elderly Filipino lady to my right. She knew what she was doing. Or, everyone else was following her lead, too.
After a homily and a few responsive readings, it was time for communion. I took my spot in line and watched what those in front of me did. The priest said, “This is the body and blood of Christ” and handed me a round wafer. Holding it in my hand, I turned to go back to my seat where I planned on eating it alone. After two or three steps, the priest caught up to me and said these words: “Sir, you must consume that now.”
There was a seriousness and intent in his voice that I didn’t want to reckon with – I ate the wafer.
Returning to my seat, I knelt down on the little bench and thought about what he said. “You must consume that now”. How often, I thought, do we hold Christ in hand but fail to make him a part of our life? Rather than digest him, we keep him ensconced in the pantry.
The other thing that rattled me about the priest’s words was the sense of urgency in his voice. It had to be done now. Not back at my seat. Now.
If Jesus is truly “the air we breathe” (as we like to sing), then it seems we must inhale him now. And now. And now. I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency to breathe a lot.
I walked out of the cathedral with “Sir, you must consume that now” bouncing around in my thoughts. It still is.