Today we drove to a Catholic Parish in a nearby town to visit with our friend Nic. He had a speaking engagement in the evening, so we thought we would catch up in person since it’s rare for us to be in the same part of the same state at the same time.
As we approached the Parish, I noticed that there were 4-5 Christian churches within a 2 block radius of the Catholic Church we were going to. Several different denominations were represented, each with their own building.
We spent a bit of time inside the beautifully constructed Catholic Church. Each of the stations of the cross was a hand-made mosaic, along with several other pieces of art on the walls- including a beautiful Mary mosaic above the tabernacle. That, and the pillars, and the stained-glass, and the wooden pews… just everything was so beautiful. We spoke for a few minutes with one of the priests of the parish and ended up talking about how that kind of ornament in a church building used to be offensive to me as a Protestant, but now I find it to be so beautiful.
We talked about Kreeft, and how he argues that only belief in the True Presence built buildings like this. And also how, besides, desiring for Christ to have the best we have to offer, that having beautiful churches and Cathedrals helps to make up for the scandal of the manger. Besides the church itself being beautiful, the very idea of those things is, also, beautiful.
As we left and drove by all those other churches, so close to the building that houses the True Presence of Christ Himself, and yet far enough away that they felt like they had to construct their own buildings to worship in, I wondered how that made God feel… and I was reminded of a song from a little-known Christian musician that used to play in Green Bay when I was younger. He wrote a song called “Never Knew You Looked Like That,” which isn’t about the Eucharist, but is about the many ways Christ shows himself to mankind, and how oblivious we are to it so much of the time.
But with all I’ve been through, I can’t help but see the connection to the Eucharist as well.
Some of my favorite lyrics:
“Does it make you sad that I never knew you looked like that? Does it make you laugh that I never knew you looked like that”
“There you are again, no matter where I turn. You wait for me to notice, wondering if I’ll learn.”
What does God think about those people who built those buildings, so very close to where he truly and really resides in a physical sense? Is he sad about it? Or does he shake his head and smile, much like I do when my son or daughter just doesn’t understand something that seems so simple to me?
How does God feel about the many, once including myself, that don’t recognize Him in the bread and the wine? I now believe it is no more shocking that God would appear to us as though he were bread and wine than it is to believe God was once a zygote in his mother’s womb.
But those buildings, so, so close to the Real Thing. And yet thick walls separate them. And there are so many Christians who desperately seek nearness with their Savior, too, separated by walls of disbelief in their hearts that His True Presence is here with us now.
Thank you, Jesus, for your True Presence in the gift of the Eucharist. And I pray that all Christians would be united to You, and experience the fullness of faith and life and joy through the Church you established. Please help us to all recognize you in all the ways you reveal yourself to us on this earth, including in the faces of the poor, the suffering, and in the Eucharist.
In Jesus name,