Many people today, especially young people, say they believe in God and are on a spiritual quest, but they do not need an organised religion to help them.Sunday Mass will make the question especially poignant. To put it in the worst light, why would you Catholics go each week to be given a flat wafer called a host and perhaps a small sip of wine? It seems like a lot of trouble and would appear to have very little to do with the spiritual quest.
As Catholics we answer that the host is no longer bread but has undergone transubstantiation. In simple words, even though it has the appearance of a flat piece of bread, its substance has been transformed from that of bread to that of Christs body. The same goes for the wine. The non-church believers might reply – arent God and spiritually something interior, something private? If the point is that we should help each other, why cant we do it without all the paraphernalia, without all this body and blood business?
In reply, to get to the bottom of the matter, perhaps we would state the following lessons from Holy Week and Easter. I seem to like numbering things, so pardon me if I do it again. Jesus is speaking out of Gods love. He and the Father are one, as the scripture attest.Jesus died on the cross in a showdown between goodness and the forces of selfishness and evil
Evil won, but the death of Christ contained something far deeper that life. This is something continued even though he was dead and buried. Love is the soil that life sprouts from so because of God’s love, Jesus life grew full again and he emerged from the tomb. Jesus ascended into heaven apparently leaving us behind without him. He sent the Holy Spirit into the hearts of those who believe so that he would still be present to us. Pentecost. Fine, our Churchless brothers and sisters would agree. The Holy Spirit of God dwells deep in the wordless depths of a person. You have proved your point. We do not need ceremonies and ritual. Uh oh! Maybe they are right!
No quite. Think of it this way. When you are hungry and you want, say a hamburger, do you satisfy that longing by thinking about food? Or picturing it in your mind? Since your hunger is internal, it should stay there, with no answer in the material world, should it not? No? Try it! We human beings have an inside and outside. We are not built to just stay inside ourselves but to let our spirits walk, play and even suffer in the material world. The Holy Spirits presence at the depths of our being makes us desire to find Jesus with our eyes, ears, nose, tongue and hands. We are humans, not angels.
And that is why we go to Church; to find the answer to our Spiritual quest in the fleshy presence of Christ. At Mass, which is a ritual, we find that presence given to our senses in Communion, which fulfils our Spiritual and physical yearning.
Are you hungry for Christ? Come and eat… You are what you eat, you know.