We celebrate the institution of the Eucharist and also with it, the institution of the ministerial priesthood. A recent survey in the US tells us that only 30% believe that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Jesus. With this statistic, we should not wonder why many receive Jesus in a state of sin. The verses following the Second Reading today tells us: For he that eats and drinks unworthily eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord. Therefore are there many infirm and weak among you and many sleep. When we come to receive communion, we must not be in the state of mortal sin otherwise, Paul says, we will get sick or even die of it. Perhaps today, we rarely see people dying physically for receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus in a state of mortal sin. But spiritually, they are dead. When we come to communion in a state of mortal sin, we are adding sacrilege to that sin.
While the Gospel does not narrate the institution of the Holy Eucharist, it shows us how we are to receive it: in total surrender to Jesus, receiving him as he is. Simon Peter would not want Jesus to wash him because Jesus is his Lord. And rightly so. But Jesus tells him: unless I wash you, you have no share with me. Unless we allow Jesus to wash us clean, we will not have a share with him. Our salvation is the work of Jesus and not ours. We cannot save ourselves, which is why we need to allow Jesus to wash us. We may have our ideas about Jesus, but coming to communion is letting go of those ideas and accepting Jesus as he is, and accepting what he says as the Truth.
The First Reading tells us that Moses and Aaron instructed Israel to kill a lamb and splash its blood on their doorposts. And when God sees that sign, he will pass over them and not allow the plague to destroy them. God was preparing to deliver his people from slavery, not by human power and authority, but by his power. When we look at it, how can sprinkling the blood of lambs over the doorposts free them from slavery? The blood prevented God’s power from harming them. It is by the blood of the lamb that they were saved. After God’s power moved in the land, their Egyptian masters forced Israel out of Egypt. The Egyptians were just glad to get rid of them.
In these times of pandemic, we are locked down from worshiping God and remembering how God has saved us. Many tell us the lockdown will control this pandemic, or the vaccine will solve the pandemic, or the government official or the medical officer will save us. The truth is, none of these have power to save us. The only One who can save us is Jesus Christ and it is his blood that will deliver us from death. While many believers may die of the virus, they are assured of salvation because they trusted in the Lord. Yes, we look at science to help us control this pandemic. We observe protocols to keep ourselves safe, but we should not forget who can save us: Jesus Christ! He is the only One who defeated death and by rising from the dead. And we should turn to him.
We have forgotten who can save us. We have relied too much on ourselves, making idols of ourselves or some other people or thing, thinking we are in control. But unless we turn to God, we will never find a solution to our problems.
Lord Jesus, it is by your Blood that we are cleansed and saved. I turn back to you and say that you are my Savior and you are the One who will keep me safe. A thousand may fall at my side, then thousand at my right. But it will not come near me… because your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Jesus, I trust in you.