Today is Palm Sunday. A Few of us went down to a catholic church in Kitsilano to begin Holy Week with the nominal remnant of Vancouver (humor).
Sparing you all the details of the service, good and bad, the main thing is: I got turned down for the Eucharist. All shock and awe aside, all protestant pride let go of, all self-entitlement released (well not all), i still have some thoughts for that short woman with curly hair, concerned eyes, and paltry blessings for the uninitiated. “wait,” she said, while the body was already in my hands, “are you catholic?” Having never been refused the Eucharist before (and i’ve been countless times), i was too shocked to say “are you?” and then chomp, down goes Jesus. No, i was slow of tongue and so mumbled, “no.” she said, as she firmly pried the Lord from my fingers, “well you come up for a blessing then,” and waved her hand around my cranium, careful not to touch me. good times.
So i know the official score and the reasons for it; the catholic Eucharist is a strange practice set apart for the faithful, you don’t need to tell me. But in the end, she was wrong, is wrong, to try and keep me from the most wholesome food i know of in this life. after the service, on my way out, i was looking to see if there was any chance i could steal a wafer. And i would have, with joy, but there was none in sight, all had been locked away, so i went away hungry. (ironically, we went to a jewish deli afterwards and i had a bagel)
I feel no guilt or shame about wanting to take the Eucharist in a catholic community. part of the reason for that is probably that i’ve never been refused before. But the main reason is that i need the eucharist, and so i will go up next time, and the next, and also the time after that. At baptist churches where they try and strip the Eucharist of its presence, i still stubbornly eat the presence that IS there, because i am hungry. at catholic churches where they (only sometimes) keep the body and blood for those baptized in the catholic community, i take it because i am hungry. no human will tell me i cannot come to the table, ever. it is my one hope.
so it was a bit funny and a bit painful, but mostly strange and silly. we all have our ingrained theological beliefs. the lady who refused me had it hardwired into her head that because i was not baptized in the catholic community, Jesus was not edible to me. My hardwired belief is that Jesus is, well, mine. The one thing flesh and blood cannot take from me is the flesh and blood, how interesting. For even if i am refused in every church i go to from this day till the day i die, my hunger would remain as a sign that my soul and body have been made to take God into my very self, Gift of all gifts.