A friend recently asked me how my relationship with Jesus has changed since deciding to become Catholic, and it is impossible to answer that question without talking about the Eucharist. Receiving the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ contained in that tiny white Host has introduced me to a level of intimacy I did not know was possible on this side of Heaven, but, oh my goodness, how in the world are these dirty hands worthy?
Oh, my Lord, they are not.
“Lord, I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” Without a doubt, this is my favorite line from the Mass. Before receiving the Eucharist these words were all too real. I was not yet in full communion with the Church and therefore could not receive. I prayed an Act of Spiritual Communion day after day and trusted that at the Lord’s word, truly my heart would be healed. This phrase brought on new meaning with my very first Communion, though.
I was still unworthy - I AM still unworthy. But somehow, I am entirely worthy.
We are not worthy because God turns a blind eye to our sinfulness. He does not pretend we are better than we are. No, we are made worthy through Him, with Him, and in Him. He makes us better out of His desire to heal the brokenness brought upon us at the fall - the brokenness we still fall prey to every day.
In the days leading up to my Confirmation, I sat and studied my hands over and over again, specifically, the palm of my right hand - the exact place where I knew the Body of Christ would soon be placed. How many times have these hands sinned against my Savior? How many times have these hands inflicted pain and suffering on one of my King’s precious children? How many times have these hands sought to write my own story rather than letting the Author of the Heavens keep the pen?
And yet, I am loved by an incomprehensible Love, and It looks past my dirtiness. This is the great paradox of the Christian faith. You see, not only is Christ willing to enter into the dirt on my hands, He wants to enter into my entire body and soul. He wants to give Himself intimately without any reservation whatsoever.
These hands were crafted with the utmost care. They were crafted in the image of the Creator.
Day in and day out I choose myself over the Lord. He made the greatest sacrifice in all of history, and He did it with my name on His heart. He has made an entire gift of self, and yet somehow I still find a way to be selfish. Somehow I find a way to not return the gift. I am human, and I do not deserve to receive this gift.
This unworthiness raced through my mind as my day of Confirmation and First Holy Communion approached, but the graces of the Sacraments are infinitely more powerful than my own brokenness.
I walked up to receive the Eucharist for the first time, and tears began falling. All I could do was shake as Father Gale placed that precious Host in my hand. This was the moment I had been waiting for. This was the moment I had longed for day in and day out. Friends, Jesus surpassed every expectation I ever had.
My tears were my prayer as I knelt in humble adoration. The King chose to meet me, and I just wept. Every moment of waiting was worth it. What a gift it is to be known and loved in such an intimate way. Truly in the Eucharist we are graced with a glimpse of Heaven - a glimpse of eternity. This is born out of His deep desire to be one with us. It is an honor to have the living God dwell within us. Friends, it is breathtaking. I am still brought to my knees in tears when I remember the Truth in the tiny white Host.
I think it can be easy to forget how significant and breathtaking the Eucharist is. Sometimes we get so into the routine of Mass that we forget what it is all really about. I catch my mind wandering more than I would like to admit. One time I was talking to a fifth grader, and he told me he liked receiving Communion because it was a small snack in the middle of Mass. You and I might not think of the Body of Christ as a snack to tide us over until lunch, but we may think of Communion as a few minutes closer to the dismissal. After all, our obligation is almost over when we receive, right? Wrong. The word Mass comes from the Latin missa which means “sent.” Receiving the Eucharist is the nourishment we need to be sent forth. Though the Mass may be over, our mission is only just beginning upon reception of the Precious Body.
At the end of the day, though, there is mercy flowing so abundantly that we are nearly drowned in it. There is mercy for these dirty hands. There is mercy for a wandering mind. There is mercy for impatience. There is mercy because we serve the Creator of the Universe, and we are entirely worthy of it in His eyes.
Allison Dale is a sophomore at Kansas State University studying human development & family science and anthropology. She converted to the Church in September, and she finds joy in hammocking, long walks, little flowers, and pretty words. Her greatest joy, however, is being "big C" Catholic. You can find more of her words here.