Sometimes we make theological concepts harder to understand than is necessary. One such is example is the Real Presence of Jesus Christ. I tell parents all the time that practicing real presence is one of the highest demands of parenting. As a parent, you make every effort to be truly present to your child, especially for special occasions such as his or her birthday, first day of school, graduation, recitals, and big games. Likewise, you strive to be truly present to them when they are in need—feeling sad, hurt, frightened, lonely, or left out. Children want to know that their parents are there for them and parents, in turn, strive to practice real presence.
We all experience moments—highs and lows—when we don’t want to be alone but want assurance that God, our Father, is present to us. God, as a loving parent, reveals his presence to us in many ways, the greatest of which is the Incarnation of his Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus, in turn, gives himself to us in the Eucharist. The message is that we are not alone. God, Emmanuel, is truly with us. We have God’s real presence in our midst. And upon receiving the Eucharist, we, in turn, are called to be like Christ—truly present to those in need.
As we begin this New Year, let’s make an effort to practice real presence to those around us.