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Comparing the expectations we have of Tylenol vs. the Eucharist

On the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, we attended a neighboring parish’s Mass. The priest, Father Peck, gave a homily that challenged me in a positive way, so I wanted to share bits of it here for you to consider.

Some Context
The Eucharist is a central part of the Catholic faith. We are invited to receive the Lord each week, just as He shared Himself with the disciples at the last supper.

In the second reading for the day, Paul recounts this experience:

1 COR 11:23-26

Brothers and sisters:
I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you,
that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over,
took bread, and, after he had given thanks,
broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying,
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup,
you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.

The Challenge
Father Peck drew a parallel between Tylenol and the Eucharist. He said that we take Tylenol and expect something to happen. We believe our symptoms will go away and that we’ll feel better.

But what are our expectations when we receive the Eucharist, when the Lord enters our bodies? Do we go through the motions in Mass, receiving and saying some quick prayers when we get back to our seat? Or do we fully open our hearts and expect to encounter Christ, to be changed and healed, and to become more holy after receiving the body and blood of our Lord?

He noted that when we have little or no expectations, we put God in a small box in our minds rather than being open to His invitation to draw us into greater holiness.

My Reflection
I’ve been sick off and on for the last month, which is very unlike me. My doctor suggested stress may be the culprit for weakening my normally strong immune system. Pair a weak immune system with work travel where I’m stuck in confined places (planes, airports) with lots of people and it’s the perfect storm for catching the illness du jour.

Throughout the month I’ve been taking lots of different medicine, and I always expect it to work. That’s why this homily really woke me up!

I’m guilty of what Father described. I know the Lord can do great things. I’ve witnessed so many of them. But the fact is that I don’t expect to be transformed by receiving the body and blood of Christ.

After hearing this homily, I prayed for the Lord to open my heart when I received the Eucharist yesterday. I prayed to have greater expectations, and to expect to be healed from this month of sickness if it was God’s will.

I know that sometimes the answer the Lord gives is no or not yet, but I felt better after Mass and have ever since. Praise God!

What expectations do you have when you receive the Eucharist?

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