Thursday, January 12, 2012

Only Say The Word

What power do words have? They can be powerless or have infinite power depending on the circumstances. Father Robert Barron made some poignant analogies that show how this relates to the Eucharist in one segment of his Catholicism series.

Can words actually change reality?

If you are a baseball fan sitting behind home plate declaring a runner to be “safe”, it means nothing, no matter how loud you shout or how sure you are. If the umpire says he is “safe”, then he is safe and his team scores a run, regardless of what you saw or what you think you saw. The umpire has the authority.

If an ordinary citizen walks up to you and says “you are under arrest”, it means nothing. If an on-duty police officer did the same thing, then you are under arrest. Even if you did nothing wrong, your reality has now changed.
These analogies from Fr. Barron made me think of another:
If you are out to dinner with your boyfriend or girlfriend and you both say “I do” with the intent to be married, you are still not married. If you say “I do” in the context of a wedding in front of the proper authority, then you are married. Although you may look the same and act the same as when you were single, you are now married. There is a difference; reality has changed.
What does this have to do with the Eucharist? This is my body; this is my blood. When God says something IS, then it IS, regardless of what we say, see or taste. In fact, if there was some physically measurable change with the bread and wine, it would contradict Church teaching.
When Jesus says to do this in remembrance of Him, we obey. Jesus has the proper authority and he passed it on to his apostles, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you” (John 20:21). This verse begs a question; how did the Father send Jesus? With all the authority in heaven and on earth (see Mat 28:18). I'd say that’s an impressive amount of authority to pass on. What say you? 
In the new Mass translation we use the words of the centurion who said, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word, and my servant will be healed” (Mat 8:8). The centurion understood how authority works and knew that Jesus’ word was enough to save his servant. He did not need to see something extraordinary or be shown further evidence. We ask for our soul to be healed at Mass instead of our servant. Our words are a bit different, but our faith needs to be the same.

1 comment: