A few Sundays ago, as I took my place in line to receive the Eucharist, I noticed an older man sitting in the front, right near the Eucharistic ministers. He’d solemnly watch as they would hand the Host to the parishioner and say, “The Body of Christ.” As the person would receive it and say “Amen,” he would crack a smile. I was enchanted. I watched him do this for about 15 people until it was my turn.
I thought about this moment again, days later. What about it so touched me? I think it reminded me that we are all connected, even if I don’t always feel it. It was as if, for that one moment, that man got it. He understood that through Christ, we are one and he was cheering for each one of us, to feel Christ’s love through the Eucharist, to become whole, to be healed.
I remembered years ago, taking a friend, a lapsed Protestant who was dabbling in agnosticism, to Mass. As everyone lined up for the Eucharist, she leaned over and whispered to me, “They are all equal!” Of course they are! I thought. Then, I realized, she was used to sitting in a pew, waiting for communion to be passed to her on a tray or a bowl. She sat there waiting, anonymous. In Mass, we all get out of our seats where everyone can see us, slow down, wait and then humbly prepare to receive the Host. There is something about that action that makes us become one — one big mass of people coming to Christ together. Yes, we are all equal.
A recent Sunday was the anointing of the sick at Mass. Parishioners in need of healing of mind, body or spirit were welcome to receive the holy oil. I noticed a new friend walk up, a proud and private woman who recently confided in me the details of the trauma her family is going through. Not many at the church know this. She is strong. She is discreet. I was so moved by what I saw that I wept. I felt such a strong connection to her, I was cheering for her. I wanted her to be healed.
The last words we say before we take the Eucharist each week are “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.” I think again of that old man cheering for us as we received the Host. I imagine him as Christ, cheering for each one of us to be healed. For each one of us to be whole again. For each one of us to love and be loved. This is why He created us, for relationship, so that we can connect with one another and we can connect freely with Him. We can be the people He created us to be.
That same Spirit dwells in each of us, calling out to each other in love. No wonder the old man was watching each of us at Mass. No wonder my own heart leapt with longing for my friend to be healed. That’s the part of us, made in His image. We cheer for one another just as He cheers for us.