The Miracle of the Eucharist

Junia's Journal
June 21, 2024

As many Junia’s Journal readers are aware, I have a little bit of a crush on Frank Schuster, one of Seattle’s auxiliary bishops. For one thing, he is board chair of Catholic Community Services; for another, he likes to make Instagram videos where he judges pie contests or reviews movies. While I don’t agree with most of his views, I like his sassy style.

Recently, Bishop Frank shared his thoughts on the documentary Jesus Thirsts: the Miracle of the Eucharist, a film that “unveils the Eucharist as Jesus Christ Himself, eagerly desiring to fulfill our spiritual thirst with His boundless love.” Bishop Frank highly recommends the film and says he was most fascinated with the montage of young people discussing how they view the Eucharist as “merely symbolic,” and not, in fact, “where the miracle happens.” These young people, says Bishop Frank, have lost their sense of urgency about the Eucharist. “Why seek a Savior if you don’t feel the need to be saved?” he asks. “Why go to Mass if there are no consequences?”

I would phrase the question somewhat differently: “Why go to Mass when there are so many conditions placed upon receiving the Eucharist?”

The Eucharist as it is presented by the institutional Catholic Bishops now is a system of privileged access to communion with the divine. Only a priest may consecrate the Eucharist; only those who meet certain conditions can partake. In this way, the institutional church and its hierarchy attempt to control members by claiming a monopoly on the Sacraments, which were instituted by Christ, not by human beings.

his is like inviting people over to your house for a meal and then telling them they have to sit in the living room while everyone else is eating. Or worse, inviting them into the dining room but then saying, “When the sandwiches are passed, please don’t take one.” Why would people feel a “sense of urgency” about this kind of exclusivity? Jesus certainly didn’t.

Jesus said: “The next time you put on a dinner, don’t just invite your friends and family and rich neighbors, the kind of people who will return the favor. Invite some people who never get invited out, the misfits from the wrong side of the tracks. You’ll be—and experience—a blessing. They won’t be able to return the favor, but the favor will be returned—oh, how it will be returned!—at the resurrection of God’s people.” -Luke 14:12-14, MSG

I do feel a sense of urgency – to let go of the system of clerical domination which implies that some people have greater access to the presence of God than others. The Good News of the Gospel is that everyone is welcome into the heart of the Sacraments, where God’s extravagant love meets us where we are: in the Eucharist, in our inclusive communities, and in the world.