Distraction… or Insight?

by | Jul 29, 2022 | Formation, Reflections

Last Sunday, I was in my usual concelebrant’s seat on the right side of the sanctuary. After communion, I admit to being distracted by watching the line of people coming up to receive the Body of Christ.

I was implicitly taught to regard that as a distraction from focusing on the Body of Christ I just received. Suddenly, with insight, I became grateful for this “distraction”!  What changed?

Two things! I am increasingly aware of how much I missed being physically able to stand to give the Body of Christ to each member of the body of Christ who steps forward for communion. And yesterday, in researching something else, I connected some dots.

In this Vincentian Mindwalk, I explore a Eucharistic interpretation of an ancient Indian greeting.  “The divine in me bows to/greets the divine in you.”

The divine in us

Over some two or three millennia, the Sanskrit word “namaste” has acquired many meanings. All point to what is really an amazing, and also biblical, concept.  “The divine in me bows to the divine in you.”

This is far from a radical insight. It is consistent with….

  • Jesus  teaching us in Mt 25, “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me….”
  • St. John Chrysostom, preaching on Mt 25, challenging us to honor Christ’s body not only in the Eucharist but also on the streets.
  • The Second Vatican Council pointing to the many ways Christ is present: sacraments, especially the eucharist, the word proclaimed in the liturgy, and the church gathering in his name to pray and sing.
  • Remember, Christ himself promised: “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20)

Our encounters with Christ in the liturgy

What clicked for me now was how well “namaste” summed up our eucharistic encounters.

In a recent post, I shared how I have unconsciously replaced OUR father with MY father when I pray as Jesus taught.

I now suspect something similar applies to our understanding of the Eucharist. We have made Christ a prisoner of the tabernacle and in ordinary bread and wine.

I was looking at the faces of those approaching the altar. Now I realize I was also witnessing the encounter of the Christ under the appearance of bread and wine, with the Christ in each of us no matter how scarred or unworthy.

When we break bread together, we are celebrating our awareness of each being the body of Christ.

Talk about discovering a real presence. What could be a more profound Eucharistic renewal?

I was watching the guests encountering each other at a heavenly banquet!

Walking together – Pope Francis and the culture of encounter

In Vincentian circles, we are once again discovering that we are not bringing Christ to those living on the margins. Rather we are helping them to discover and claim the Christ already present in them!

It adds another dimension to Pope Francis’ plea for “a culture of encounter.”

 “ we need a culture of encounter, because “we, the people, should be passionate about meeting others, seeking points of contact, building bridges, planning a project that includes everyone” (Fratelli Tutti #216).


  • Does this perspective carry over to our encounters after Mass and elsewhere?
  • Do we recognize that in the liturgy, we are encountering Jesus in each other as well as in the host?

PS I also could not help remembering what I experienced in some older European churches over 50 years ago. People were elbowing each other to get to the communion rail more quickly.

Originally posted on Vincentian Mindwalk



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