When I was a child, my parents and I would go to South Coast Plaza a couple of times a month. Back then there was May Company where Bloomingdale’s is presently located. The May Company had a candy department right next to the escalators, so we passed by the candy section every time we went up or down.
At one point, I wanted to buy a box of chocolates, but my parents said I could not get it. For a few months, I would beg, plead or bargain, but my parents would again say, “no.”
Finally, I wore them down and they let me buy a box of chocolates. Filled with excitement, I picked out the box I wanted. My parents told me that I could not eat any until after dinner. We went to evening Mass, and I was praying that the priest would be fast so that we could get home, have dinner and I could finally have my chocolates. The moment finally arrived, and I opened up the box, took off the cellophane and chose the perfect piece. I was as happy as could be! I bit into the piece and my teeth got stuck.
The box was a display box filled with wax replicas of chocolate. I was devastated!
My joy and excitement quickly vanished. Although it looked like a box of chocolates, cost as much as chocolates, and weighed the same as a real box of chocolates, it was just a sign or symbol.
And instead of fulfilling me, it left me empty—worse off than before I bought the box of chocolates.
As human beings, we want to feel loved by God. St. Agustin said to the Lord, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”
Only God can fill the holes in our hearts. The Lord knows our need to feel loved and connected to Him and so He gives us the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of His Son, Jesus Christ, to enter our bodies in Holy Communion. At that moment, we experience the love that comes from being united to God.
St. Paul wrote, “The Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and after he had given thanks, broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also the cup, after supper saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood.’” (1 Cor. 11: 23-25)
For the first 16 centuries of Christianity, all Christians believed that what we receive in Holy Communion is not a sign, but the actual Body and Blood of Christ. To be given just a sign would mean we have a God who is cruel, and wants us to suffer and feel even more empty. God loves us so much that He wants us to not be empty, but to be filled with His grace, peace, love and hope that comes from both spiritual as well as physical union with Jesus in Holy Communion.