Do we realize how much God loves us?! Do we realize that any desire we have for love comes from His outpouring of Love? How tremendous is His love? Let’s take a look…
Exodus 3:7ff. “But the LORD said, ‘I have witnessed the affliction of my people in Egypt and have heard their cry of complaint against their slave drivers, so I know well what they are suffering. Therefore I have come down to rescue them from the hands of the Egyptians and lead them out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey…’” In a special way, God reveals Himself first as the ONE WHO SAVES. The saving God of the Old Testament reminds us that He is full of power, but in a unique way, God shows His power and might using a weak human population.
Just think, the Israelite community (the Hebrews in Egypt) are low-class slaves working under the god-like pharaoh. God uses Moses (who, at first, objects by saying that he is unfit to speak) to save them and bring them out from the grasp of the mighty Egyptians into a land already settled by other communities far greater than they… a task that emphasizes God’s power. Yet, in all of it, God’s power is revealed in the response of those weak Israelites. (Keep this idea in mind)
Again we hear of God’s saving power, personally united to His beloved people. Deuteronomy 4:37 “For love of your fathers he chose their descendants and personally led you out of Egypt by His great power.”
Then, because of our frailty God broke open our world and tried to crush further doubts by sending us a sign. This sign, however, was to be He Himself. Isaiah 7:14 “Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.” Then… God fulfills His promise. Matthew 1:22 “And all this took place of fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘behold the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,’ which means “god is with us.” Holy smokes…
Even greater than that, God sent his Son into the world with a mission: John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that whoever believed in Him might have eternal life“!! John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep”. We read this in connection with Matthew 16:21 “From that time on, Jesus began to Show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.” Jesus makes it known that He is going to leave them, but, not without sending them an advocate: Matthew 28:20 “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
So, after your patient reading of my less-than-adequate exegesis of Salvation History, you might be thinking, what’s the point? Well, the point is, that Christ, who Loves us, NEVER, EVER leaves us. He is always there.
How great it is to be Catholic, because this saving God continues to be with us as long as we continue to respond to Him. But, because of our human frailty, Jesus took extra precaution and started a church: Matthew 16:17ff. The most profound and significant manner of God’s presence among us is found in the Eucharist.
We know that the church celebrated the presence of the Lord. For clarification read John 6. Jesus begins the discourse on the Bread of Life in vague, spiritual, high theology but each and every time they start to question His teaching or He senses doubt, Jesus makes Himself more explicit and concrete. Notice He completely switches from saying “bread” to “flesh” and more subtly the word from eat (which can only really be noticed in the greek) switches from eating to a word that means more like “eating audibly” or more loosely, “gnawing”.
If Jesus’ words aren’t specific enough, lets look at the early Church and St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians 11:23. Notice especially verse 27, “Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and the blood of the Lord…without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgement on himself.” St. Paul doesn’t seem to have a vague symbolic notion of Jesus’ presence here. It is more like God is SO present, because He loves us, that if we receive Him unworthily (that is described in other places) we bring judgement upon ourselves.
Isn’t it great to be Catholic? So many times I think we thwart God’s work in our lives because we fail to see how much God is willing to love us unto death, and remain with us under the appearance of bread and wine. When we let our minds get in the way, maybe we should reconsider what Jesus says to Peter in Matthew 16:23 “You are an obstacle to me. You are not thinking as God does, but as human beings do”. So often we fall into the sin of pride, wishing God to show his power and might, but we forget that His power is realized in His HUMILITY. Might we be so humble as to take Jesus at his word?
I am Catholic and PROUD of it. We have JESUS! He is here among us, and we don’t deny it. Let us remember WHY we are Catholic in the first place.