The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, in his well-crafted pastoral letter last week, aptly noted that “we cannot dance the dance of life on an empty stomach”. We need to be fed in order to confront and master the challenges of our mortal existence which is replete with challenging and humbling experiences (Job 7:1).

The use of bread and wine as an offering by Melchizedek foreshadowed the mystery of the Holy Eucharist (Genesis 14:17-19). During the nomadic journey of the old Israel through the wilderness, God provided manna in response to their cries of distress, thus showing them how their lives depended on the power of God’s word to sustain life via material things He created by the same word (Deuteronomy 8:1-10). Elijah the Prophet drew strength from the food brought by a raven symbolic of the Holy Spirit transforming ordinary food like bread and water to divine sustenance for Elijah’s journey to the mount of God (1 King 19:1-8). Elijah was fleeing from Jezebel like us who are fleeing from many evil and malicious people! Prophet Malachi talks of the perpetual sacrifice of praise with incense from east to west, offered to the Lord by gentiles (Malachi 1:11). This phenomenon foreshadowed the Holy Mass. All these realities from the Old Testament are symbolic signs that find their fulfilment in the Holy Eucharist, which being a sacrament, is an “outward sign of an inward grace.”

A sign or symbol points to something deeper and participates in it. We participate in this sacrament by faith. The Eucharist is the Real Presence of Christ among us, and goes beyond a mere symbol. Through the Holy Eucharist then, God manifests His real presence among us. Spiritual constipation occurs when one participates in the table of the Lord and does not share in the word by faith. Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God (Deuteronomy 8:3).Therefore, let us flee from anything that will prevent us from receiving the Lord worthily (1 Corinthians 11:28-30). Let us deepen our love for this sacrament which is a fulfilment of His Promise to be with us until the end of time (Mt 28:20).

As we reflect on these truths, may we experience the healing touch of the Holy Spirit, as He pours upon us, His anointing unto “horror for sin” in all its ramifications, thus keeping our body free of all obstacles to a worthy reception of the Lord in the Holy Eucharist through Christ Our Lord. Amen.