Today’s Gospel reading should sound familiar, as it was a portion of this past Sunday’s pericope. Do we realize that we have, daily, at our disposal a pearl of the greatest price in the Eucharist? Right here before us, under the mere appearance of bread and wine, we have the King of Kings and the Lord of the Universe! How cool is that! Yet, so often we can take such a lackadaisical approach to the altar that we take for granted so great a treasure.
When the Jesuit missionaries returned to Japan after the boarders were re-opened, they journeyed to a small, remote village up in the mountains. Upon their entrance, the village elders emerged to meet them carrying a stole. They asked them four questions: Who is the pope? What role does Mary have? The Bible, and whether the priests were celibate.
Years and years ago, the original Jesuits came to Japan and had evangelized the community and instilled the Catholic Faith there. However, they knew that the expulsion was coming and they set up the pattern for the faith to continue. Every Sunday. the elders would gather the community and they would read the Scriptures, they would pray for the faithful, and they would recite the Roman Canon, right up to the point of the Institution Narrative. They would stop and pray for a priest so that they could receive the Holy Eucharist. There were tears in their eyes as the next wave of Missionaries came to them.
Imagine if this most precious gift were withheld, what would you do to get it back?