I didn’t expect the hand rung bell. I was at a Saturday Evening Mass at a parish in Miacatlan, Mexico. The Priest had just finished the consecration. We prayed through the Our Father and shared a sign of peace. The Church was mostly a large roof over an open air seating area. Out of the back and around the corner of the far wall came the clanking sound of two hand rung bells. I didn’t know what it was at first. Then I realized; the head communion minister, the two servers, and about 10 other people with banners were processing the Eucharist from the tabernacle to the altar for Communion.
The ministers and honor guard walked slowly and with purpose. They were careful in their task. Every step and every movement showed the great care and deep respect they held for what they were doing and who they were carrying. Every couple steps the servers rang these impossibly heavy looking bells. The group was so careful with the Eucharist. It was as if they were carrying the very body of Jesus Christ (which of course they were). I was left asking if we are that careful. More importantly I asked, am I that careful with what I carry when I walk out of Church having received Jesus and I am a tabernacle of the Eucharist?
Curiously, this wasn’t the only time I encountered Christ in the Eucharist that trip. When we stopped by a small chapel in Cuernavaca where the founder of NPH was first pastor, the chapel was open for walk-ins for noontime adoration. When we visited the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, a huge monstrance was exposed in a side chapel and many of us stopped to worship. It seemed everywhere I went Jesus was present in the Eucharist.
Reflecting on a summer of Youth Ministry with the CREW at HNOJ, it became abundantly clear God was near us in the Eucharist. At Christpower, our Mission trip to North Minneapolis in partnership with Church of the Ascension, we had a powerful night of Eucharistic adoration. At the Steubenville Youth Conference in Rochester, Jesus once again came to our young people in the Eucharist during the large session, and our small groups always seemed to end up by the small Adoration Chapel.
Everywhere we turned Jesus was offering us his very body in the Mass and Eucharistic Adoration. I shouldn’t be shocked that Jesus is present in the Eucharist, but I was legitimately amazed all the times that Jesus snuck himself into a day of Youth Ministry when we had no purposeful intention to meeting him the Eucharist.
Besides being sneaky, Jesus is persistent. I really felt like Jesus was pursuing us all summer. Every event, every day it seemed like Jesus was physically really there. Every corner we turned at each event, Jesus was there. Jesus just wouldn’t leave us alone. This is closer to reality then I normally think about. Jesus really is chasing after us. He really is coming for us. Jesus won’t let us just wander without coming to find us.
We are the dropped coin, the lost sheep, the prodigal son, and our God is coming for us.
I think we often talk about people “finding God.” People may say, “Oh he found Jesus.” But in reality, Jesus is finding us. And here is the thing, Jesus doesn’t just come in some metaphorical way or some random turn of events or some supernatural sign – no. Jesus is coming for us physically, really, truly, completely in the Eucharist. Jesus is literally physically running down the road to meet us. Jesus in the Eucharist isn’t a symbol, idea, poem, or myth. The physical, fleshy God of the universe, incarnate (which means ‘taking on flesh’) in Jesus Christ, has come to find us. God doesn’t send an angel or a cloud shaped like heart to tell us he loves us and wants to be with us, God comes himself.
No messenger, no poetry, no text message or tweet – the God that breathed the stars has come physically to find you and me.
What are you going to do when he finds you? How are you going to respond when God Almighty offers his body to you at the next Mass you attend? What are you going to do the next time you step into that Eucharistic Adoration Chapel at HNOJ? How will you react the next time you come into the physical present of God?