Our Great Refuge

Throughout this month, we continue to reflect on the Holy Eucharist in the Sunday Gospels.  In the blog of two weeks ago, we listened to the words of Jesus:  “It is I. Do not be afraid.” (John 6:20 and Matthew 14:27). 

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We cannot miss the intention of the Holy Spirit here: there is an unbreakable connection between the presence of Jesus and its consequences: where the Son of God is, fear is driven away. The Bible is clear: God is love (I John 4:8) and perfect love casts out all fear (I John 4:18).

When Jesus said “I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20),” he wasn’t being poetic.  He wasn’t speaking as a lover or a grandparent who assure their loved ones that “you will always be in my heart.”  The Eucharist is the concrete, physical Presence of Jesus in our midst.  When he took bread and said “This is my body, which is for you.  Do this in memory of me” (Luke 22:19), he meant “This is me.  I am here for you.”

We experience the presence of Jesus at Mass in the consecration, the reliving of the Last Supper, which we do at Jesus’ command.  We are then able to continue our encounter with him at any time we choose to visit a church or chapel and spend time before the Tabernacle.

The Tabernacle is a great refuge, a place of strength because it is the dwelling of God himself.   There we are reminded of the words of Jesus to us:  “It is I. Do not be afraid.”

In times of need, but especially when we are struggling with or overwhelmed by fear, anxiety, even terror, we can literally flee to the Presence of Jesus in the Tabernacle.  Our prayer takes on an added strength by the physical reality of God who has allowed himself to reside in the small container crafted by human hands.   He is not there for any reason except to love us. As he gives himself to us in the Mass, so he remains there for us always.

How blessed we are at Prince of Peace to have the beautiful, crafted gold Tabernacle given by the Spanish-speaking community at the time of our church renovation. How blessed we are that our church is open for prayer and adoration seven days a week. How blessed we are that as our great crucifix reminds us of Jesus’ love, so our Blessed Sacrament chapel is the actual dwelling place of that love.

The Tabernacle is the place to come when you are afraid.

Bring your burdens and let your heart hear Jesus say:  “It is I.   Do not be afraid.”