In a small First Communion class, Father was teaching the class about Jesus’ being present in the Eucharist. He told them that, behind the closed doors of the Tabernacle – the gold box in the high altar – is Jesus’ home. As Father was talking, one little boy was hanging on every word… He was sitting on the edge of the pew, soaking in the lesson. Father finished his lesson by telling the children how delighted Jesus is when we visit Him, when we stop in church and say hello and whisper a prayer to Him. When class was dismissed, Father went back to the rectory and the kids went home – except this little boy. He stayed inside the church. After everyone left, he walked up into the sanctuary … a little nervous because he had never been up this far before … and climbed up onto the high altar and did something extraordinary … He knocked on the tabernacle door. He wanted to see if Jesus would answer … nothing… silence. The boy thought Jesus might be sleeping and didn’t want to wake Him. He decided that Jesus must get hungry at times, so he brought in some cookies and left them on the altar. He thought, if the cookies are all gone tomorrow, I will know that Jesus is there … sure enough, the next day – gone. So, the boy brought more and the next day – gone again… At that he was convinced. Now, Father was taking the cookies and he just didn’t have the heart to tell that little boy … That little boy had faith.
Up to this point in St. Mark’s Gospel we have heard some magnificent stories – miraculous healing of a man possessed, of a woman suffering from hemorrhages, the calming of a raging storm, the raising of the little girl from the dead … Crowds of people have experienced healing, freedom and the compassion of Jesus. All of that however, comes to halt here. All of it is blocked by the greatest obstacle of all … unbelief. It isn’t that His power is limited due to a lack of faith but rather that people are hindered from experiencing His power and His compassion by refusing to believe.
It could be very easy to judge the people of Nazareth … how could they not recognize the Messiah in their midst? Yet, are we not guilty of the same? Here we have Jesus present to us under the form of bread and wine … The Eucharist is God-with-Us … God among us … Truly Present – Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity … and how often do we complain that He is not with us, that He is not taking care of us, that our problems are too much and He is not listening … St Mark seems to indicate that if we truly desire to experience the power of God – faith is necessary. Faith, however, depends on an openness to receive … which means we must have the proper interior disposition – that our souls must be in the right place for receiving Holy Communion, clean from grave sin … Because we are not serving cookies here – this IS our God truly present to us … If the door of our hearts and souls is blocked by our unwillingness to confess, if our interior life is too cluttered – too busy, too distracted… how do we expect Jesus to enter? If our faith is halted at this moment because of lack of belief in His presence, He cannot enter … For faith is the door into the heart but it can only be opened from within.