“It is I. Do not be afraid.”

“It is I. Do not be afraid.”

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These words of Jesus from the heart of the storm are recorded in the Gospel of Matthew (14:27). We hear them again in John 6:20. John, chapter 6, is the magnificent revelation of the Holy Eucharist. Amidst images of feeding, storms, bread and wine is the admonition of Jesus: It is I. Do not be afraid.

We cannot miss the intention of the Holy Spirit here, that you and I make the connection between the presence of Jesus:   It is I and its consequences:  Do not be afraid.

To understand this, we have to return to our earliest memories.  If we had even adequate parenting, we can recall experiences of rushing into the arms of mother or father.  Frightened by what lurked in the dark or startled at something that leapt out in the light, we threw ourselves into the safety of a parent’s embrace.  Hearts racing, tears pouring, we felt helpless. The presence of a loving parent was a port in the storm, a place of safety, a refuge.  It was a time of healing.  And we grasped that reality because of the experience from our earliest moments of the unconditional love of a mother or father.   The parent became the experience of Love itself.

This fundamental human encounter, this birthing into love, was designed by God to be a sample of his own care for us.  Every good parent is a reflection of God himself.

When we come to celebrate the Eucharist, the Mass, we bring a whole range of emotions: anticipating boredom, rushing to be on time, hoping to find an empty seat, anxious to fit in with the other worshippers, awed, joyful, sad at funeral memories, angry at the parking lot, laden with babies, elated to be with a fiancé, surrounded by family who are either loving or fighting.  Like Hobby Airport, everyone arrives with baggage.

The bread and the wine are brought forth as the signs, the carriers of that baggage, of our whole lives.   As children, we experienced our fears and hurts transformed into love by the embrace of our parents.  In the Eucharist,  the heavenly Father changes our bread and wine into Love himself.  Jesus becomes present to us, alive, powerful, tender and caring, his arms outstretched to you and to me.

As you gaze upon Jesus in the Host and the Chalice, be aware that he is gazing lovingly at you.  He is anxious to comfort you, to listen to your fears and to lift them from your heart.

If you find Mass boring or see yourself easily distracted, come back to the Truth.  Hear Jesus say:  It is I. Do not be afraid.