What My Yellow Lab Taught Me About Taking the Eucharist
For the past nine years, Rudy has understood that he is fed at 5:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. No exceptions.
For whatever reason, however, Rudy has started to think he can motivate me to feed him earlier. Or, maybe he just can’t sleep (in dog years, he’s a senior citizen) and he figures, well, there’s nothing else to do—so I’ll try to get my master to feed me.
I have not caved in, but I have to tell you, it is tough to continue to sleep when your 125 lb. yellow lab is sitting right next to your bed, sighing deeply, and doing his best impression of the ASPCA poster dog for animal cruelty.
At quarter to four in the morning, I am not gentle with him:
“Stop it, you flea-bitten mongrel!”
“I mean it,” I say. “Sit down. Sit! Down!”
Eventually, he gives up and plops down on the floor with a heavy sigh, and a dejected look that says, “as the god that I worship, you pretty much suck right now, you know that?”
Then a couple hours pass and he tries it again. This time, though, I’m cooperative—because it is his appointed time to eat. I pull myself up, shift my body to the side and put my feet on the floor. I look at him, ready for what is going to happen once I say the magic words.
“Rudy,” I say.
His ears immediately perk up and a look of excited anticipation flashes across his face. Every piece of fur stands on end; every muscle snaps to attention.
I speak: “Do you want some foo—?”
I don’t even have to finish the word food. Immediately, my dog goes wild. He look as if he’s having an epileptic seizure and doing plyometric exercises at the same time.
And it doesn’t matter how often he’s eaten, or how many times he’s heard me ask, “do you want some food?” The reaction is always the same.
Sheer. Absolute. Excitement. And. Joy!
So, that got me thinking about the Eucharist.
Catholics believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. That is, we believe that through a sacramental act of grace, the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ are really present in the bread and wine. We believe that Jesus Christ so loves his disciples and so discloses himself to us that in the Eucharist he offers the greatest thing he could possibly give us: himself.
Here is what famous Catholics have written about the Eucharist:
Recognize in this bread what hung on the cross, and in this chalice what flowed from His side… whatever was in many and varied ways announced beforehand in the sacrifices of the Old Testament pertains to this one sacrifice which is revealed in the New Testament. –Saint Augustine
What wonderful majesty! What stupendous condescension! O sublime humility! That the Lord of the whole universe, God and the Son of God, should humble Himself like this under the form of a little bread, for our salvation…In this world I cannot see the Most High Son of God with my own eyes, except for His Most Holy Body and Blood. -Saint Francis of Assisi
The hidden treasure… is Jesus himself, the Kingdom in person. In the Sacred Host, he is present, the true treasure, always waiting for us. Only by adoring this presence do we learn how to receive him properly-we learn the reality of communion. -Pope Benedict XVI
So, I wonder: if we really understood what–or Who–it is that we receive in the Eucharist, would we ever show up late to Mass? Or, would we arrive at the church hours before the liturgy, sighing in anticipating, and longing until the doors opened?
And, would we casually step out from behind the pew, walk nonchalantly down the aisle, rather unmoved that we were about to “taste and see that the Lord is good?” Or, would we, like yellow labs at dinnertime, skip and jump with joy? Would we reel in excitement when our Master asked us, “do you want some food?”
Posted in Biblical and Spiritual Meditations