by Fr. Anthony Glaysher, Parish Priest of St. Mary’s, Ryde. 2008
Voltaire the great dramatist, poet and philosopher after receiving his ‘Easter Communion’ (who only did so as an example to ‘his’ parishioners, and thereafter afraid at the ‘astonished ‘concern’ shown by his fellow enlightened ‘deists at his superstitious dalliance with the Church) wrote sarcastically ‘Communion itself is an absurd ritual ‘imitating God, who created man, who in turn creates God with a few words and a handful of flour’. Did Voltaire imagine in his egotistical conceit and arrogance that these words rather than discredit, show in their simplicity the TRUTH in regard to our Lord’s action at the last supper. It is God Himself who wills it to be so. It is God Himself the Creator who desires His creatures – the work of His hands with the ‘few words’ of His Son uttered by His priests on thousands of altars over the ‘handful of flour’ and the juice of squeezed grapes to come to us, to giveHimself to us under the forms of bread and wine. Should we be surprised by this? No!
If we come to our Holy Mass and we receive Jesus and we leave satisfied, satisfied in the sense that we have done our bit and all is well there is a problem; our Holy Mass is a reminder for us to be generous to those who are less fortunate than we are, those who have little to eat. If we imitate God in His generosity by His grace it will result in enlarging our hearts. ‘Practice makes perfect’. Some of us still place our hands in God’s good soil and bring to our table ‘What earth has given and human hands have made’. We do the same with the bread and wine for our altar. As we give thanks to God for these gifts it is alsogood to remind ourselves that even though some of our food comes from Mr Marks and Mr Spencer or from the public pantry of Mrs Supermarket it is still through God that who makes it so.
When we receive the Blessed Sacrament we should be mindful of the ‘reality’ of what we receive – the ‘Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus under the form of that frail host – the ‘work of human hands’. That God could do so and chooses to do so could not be grasped by Voltaire any more than it can by men and women who today exalt themselves in the proud illusion of their ‘intelligence, wit, and rationality’. Such people still come and receive Our Lord at Mass who while receiving in the same moment believe themselves above the normal ken of the ignorant superstitious who still believe in such things. I choose to stand with the ignorant and the superstitious. I choose to stand with the countless faithful who have gone before me. I choose to stand with the saints and martyrs who have given their lives in the defence of this ‘handful of flour turned God’. I choose to stand with the countless thousands of priests who have, with hands consecrated by God make the daily Sacrifice and feed, not thousands but millions of His people. I stand in ‘Faith’ and take God at His Word – the Word made Flesh ‘THIS IS MY BODY’, THIS IS MY BLOOD‘. Amen.