A Beggar’s Hands

I wrote this piece back in November 2009 for my first blog. I had served for the first time as a Eucharistic Minister at Mass. It was a humbling and moving experience. In the years that have passed, serving as a Eucharistic Minister has continued to be a humbling and moving experience for me. My arms are often full with little ones and so I don’t get to serve in this capacity as often as I would hope to. However, today I was able to share our Lord with others at Mass and I couldn’t help but think of my first experience doing so. I wanted to share those feelings with you again.

I had a very overwhelming and moving experience yesterday at Mass. I was on the list to serve as one of the Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. While I had been “trained” to do this job, I had never been called or had the opportunity to do this duty before.

After we all prayed the Our Father and shared a sign of peace with each other, I approached the side of the altar to wait for the proper time to receive communion myself and to be handed the vessel that I would be serving from. I assumed I would be given a chalice filled with the Holy Blood and I was nervous about making sure I didn’t drop it or spill any of the precious blood of Christ.

Upon receiving communion myself, I was handed not a chalice but a ciborium filled with the Body of Christ. A new set of worries took over… would I drop one? Would I know immediately if the communicant was receiving by mouth or hand? Would I accidently touch someone’s tongue? Despite my concerns, I took my place and began giving the Lord’s body to each who came to me.

I saw that my hand was shaking, not as I lifted Christ before them and said, “The Body of Christ”, but as I gently placed Him either in their hands or on their tongue. I realized that I was shaking not because I was nervous, but because I was holding Jesus in my hands and giving Him to His faithful followers. The sheer magnitude of what I was getting to do was simply amazing.

eucharist-handsBecause my family only receives communion on the tongue, I was not bothered at all by placing Christ onto the tongues of those who came to me. I was surprised, however, that I found myself in awe of those who received by hand.

I looked at those hands, all of them so different. Some of them were calloused and hard, others were soft and smooth. There were young hands and old hands; hands that were missing fingers; hands that had perfectly manicured nails. They were all so different and yet the very same. They were all outstretched waiting to hold and accept Christ.

One woman came to me, her hands cupped together, almost like a poor beggar hoping for food. In that moment I came to understand that all of us are just poor beggars waiting for the food of life… Christ’s body. As I lifted Christ before her and heard her “Amen”, I felt a tremendous amount of love and humility fill me. I caught my breath and my eyes filled with tears. It was hard to hold back the tears. The magnitude of what I was getting to do with and for my fellow parishioners was so overwhelming. I didn’t expect those feelings.

I have always believed in the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist. I believe that the bread and wine does become Jesus’ body and blood just as he commanded in the Bible. Yesterday though, something amazing happened for me; I was reminded that while Jesus offers us this beautiful gift, we still have to accept it with our hearts open to His will. We have to have our hands cupped, outstretched and eager for the blessings that God has promised us- which He gives us each and every day. We have to say, “Amen! I believe!” and we have to take Him into our hearts, minds and bodies. He has to become a part of us in the most intimate way.

The Holy Eucharist is such a blessing. Yesterday I felt overwhelmed to be able to participate in the most important aspect of our faith. I feel blessed. I feel loved. I feel whole. I am so thankful for this beautiful and important gift that Jesus has given to us!

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