In 1989 something happened to me that I still think a lot about. I had come into our parish church in order to obtain the Blessed Sacrament to bring to the sick in the local hospital. As I approached the sanctuary of the church, I knelt down to spend a few minutes of prayer before setting out. It was then that something compelled me to prostrate myself on that spot on the carpeted floor. This was something I had seldom done before. So there I knelt with my hands and head pressed to the floor.
I felt something rough pressing into my forehead. Raising my head from the floor and feeling my forehead,I found pieces of the Eucharist (this parish used homemade unleavened bread at their Sunday Masses, a type of bread that crumbled quite easily). Feeling around the floor, I found more pieces of the Eucharist there. I picked them up and placed them into the pyx that I was carrying with me and took them to the pastor of the parish. The pastor immediately put a stop to the parish using the homemade bread until they could find a way to keep this “abuse” of the Blessed Sacrament from occurring.
This incident is noteworthy to me because of the “impuls
e” that came over me to adore those unseen pieces of the Blessed Sacrament on the floor. In Scripture this impulse to adore happens whenever someone comes into contact with a messenger of God, with an event that reminds them of God, or with God himself in the person of Jesus.Abraham does this in Genesis 18:2,Balaam does it in Numbers 22:31, Joshua does it in Joshua 5:14, the blind man does it to Jesus in John 9:38, and the disciples do it to Jesus in Matthew 28:9. Those tempted to adore God’s works, however, are condemned in Scripture.
When John falls down to worship an angel in the Book of Revelation, the angel scolds him, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus. Worship God” (Revelation 19:10). Likewise, when Cornelius bows down to worship Peter, he is told by the apostle, “Stand up; I too am a man” (Acts 10:26), and when Paul and Barnabas are the recipients of unwanted worship they tear their garments and beg the people to recognize that God alone is to be worshipped (see Acts 14). The point is that God alone is to be adored. If you want to get the most out of the Eucharist you need to worship the Lord! The first three commandments given to Moses emphasized the necessity of worshiping God alone.
1.I am the Lord your God: you shall not have strange Godsbefore me. 2.You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. 3.Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day.
This means that we must not worship false Gods. What are some of the false gods that can present themselves as “goods” at the Eucharist? They are the same today as they would have been for those who experienced Christ in the flesh:
1. Ideology: Liberal or Conservative
In Jesus’s time the Sadducees and the Pharisees held rival ideologies of how best to be a worshipper of God.Yet when God showed up in their midst in the person of Jesus,neither group could accept him — Jesus didn’t fit their image of God. In our own time good and well-meaning people fall into the same temptation, one that masks itself as a good but is really a sin of pride. There are people who accept what the Holy Father teaches on some issues but reject what he says on others based not on whether it matches the truth of the gospels but rather on whether it matches their ideology or what they wish God was like.
When it comes to the worship of God, we must insure that it is God that we adore and not our own idea of who God is or should be.
2. Looking for a Human Savior
Jesus is our savior. If we are looking for a priest, a parish community, the perfect worship space, or excellent music — though all of these are good things — we risk making an idol out of these things and missing God, who is omnipresent. The effectiveness of the Eucharistic liturgy depends upon God, not us. Reverencing Jesus — no matter how bad the preaching, music, church building, or anything else that might be our personal pet peeve — puts our focus where it belongs. Those who tried to worship the apostles were scolded that this was not where their focus should be, but rather on God. Ministers both clerical and lay need to remember this: none of us is the savior; only Jesus holds that title.