Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ: Hard to Swallow?

priest holding Communion host

Once, when I gave a Scripture presentation to a group of adults, an elderly gentleman came up to me afterwards and said, “I don’t understand why God seems to be all over the place in the Old Testament, but he’s nowhere to be found in the New Testament.” My guess is that he was referring to the dramatic theophanies of the Old Testament, such as the burning bush. I replied, “Oh, no, God is very present in the New Testament, but in a new way—through Jesus. Jesus is the ultimate divine intervention. And Jesus is truly present to us today in the Eucharist.” The man smiled, scratched his head, and replied, “I don’t know. That’s kind of hard to swallow!”

I’m sure he meant that he was trying to comprehend how God’s presence is manifested differently in the New Testament than in the Old Testament, but his choice of wording was cleverly ironic: the presence of God in the Eucharist as being “hard to swallow.”

Perhaps, he is right, in a way. The presence of God is not always easy on us. Sometimes we need to take medicine that’s good for us but is not easy to swallow. (The other day, I tried drinking a V8 on the advice of a doctor and could barely swallow it!)

On the one hand, the Eucharist is the Gift of Finest Wheat that satisfies the hungry heart. On the other hand, the Eucharist, the Divine Presence in our midst, calls us to change—and that’s not always easy. Sometimes, the Word of God is hard to swallow.

In this week following the Feast of Corpus Christi—the Body and Blood of Christ—may we recognize that each time we receive the Eucharist, we swallow the Word of God. Whatever we swallow becomes absorbed into our bloodstream—our very being. May we absorb the Word of God, into the fiber of our being, especially when it is difficult to swallow.


God’s Gift Intermediate: Reconciliation and Eucharist was developed to pass on the truth and beauty of the sacraments to young people preparing to celebrate the sacraments out of typical sequence.

About Joe Paprocki 2144 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at www.catechistsjourney.com.

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