My brother-in-law became a Catholic this past Saturday night at the Easter Vigil. He told my husband (a non-Catholic) that he was tired of going up during communion with his arms folded across his chest. Knowing my brother-in-law, there was more to it than that & he was just joking. But I have had people say that it’s not right that Catholics don’t allow non-Catholics to receive communion. Non-Catholics think that we Catholics are being mean or are discriminating. That really is not it. It all has to do with our beliefs about what communion is and what other Christians believe about it.
Catholics believe the bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of Jesus. The remaining Christian religions believe the hosts and wine represent the Body & Blood of Jesus. That is quite a difference. My husband’s cousin’s father was Catholic and her mom was not. She tells me that her parents got into huge fights about “How could the bread and wine actually become the Body & Blood of Jesus?” If you cannot accept our beliefs, how can you receive our communion?
On the original Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday), at the Last Supper, Jesus changed the bread and wine into his body and blood. I am sure the bread still looked and tasted like bread and the same for the wine. Out of twelve men, someone would have balked at eating it. Did that make it any less His Body & Blood? It is a mystery how it could be bread & wine and also be Jesus’ Body & Blood. Does that make it any less true? As Catholics, we believe that Jesus is acting through the priest to change the the little, round hosts into the Body of Jesus and the wine in the chalices into the Blood of Jesus. Doesn’t Jesus act through people all the time? Doesn’t he act through people to say kind words to you when you need it, when you are having a bad day? Yes, it is hard to get your head around the idea that, while it looks like hosts and ordinary wine and tastes that way, it is really the Body and Blood of Jesus. It is a mystery. How do we Catholics believe all this? It’s called faith.