A Heartstopping Story of Faith
My day started with one of those calls you never want to get. It was early in the morning and my wife was on the phone and she was crying. Her voice was shaking. She was 10 weeks pregnant, and she was bleeding. It wasn't excessive, but it certainly wasn't normal. And she needed to go to the doctor immediately. The reason why she had to call me and why I wasn't holding her and driving into the hospital is that I was thousands of miles away on a work trip. When we hung up my head bowed down almost by the seemingly unconscionable weight of the possibility of losing a child. And I prayed. Well, I think I prayed. It was probably sounded a lot more like a starving man begging for food or something like that. I try to keep myself busy by looking up flights to see how quickly I could get to my wife should the worst happen. And when that was done, I still had a job to do. I had meetings that needed to be in person and couldn't be rescheduled because of travel. I had parish leaders that expected me to be there and a mission bigger than myself who needed me to show up. So off to the meetings I went. I'm sure they could tell I was distracted and thank God I wasn't alone. My partner in the meetings, he took the lead and carried the weight of the conversations as I truly got acquainted with the phrase, pray without ceasing. For the first time in my life, my body was in one place, but my mind and my heart and my soul they were with my wife and my unborn child. Eventually, my bride texted me that they were going to do an ultrasound to see if everything was okay. She told me that our friend who drove her would FaceTime me so that I could be as present as possible to the appointment. The ultrasound took place during the last meeting of the day at Corpus Christi Parish in Temple Terrace, Florida. It was there in that beautiful yet simple church kneeling before God that I heard the heartbeat of my son for the first time. When we hung up the phone, I finished praising God and thanksgiving for the wellbeing of my wife and my boy, and a thought crossed my mind. If I couldn't be next to my wife, if I couldn't be there holding her hand then there probably wasn't a better place for me to be than at a church named Corpus Christi sitting in the living presence of God in that parish named for the body and blood of Jesus. It's because the Eucharist. The Eucharist, it is the very heartbeat of my faith. It is the source of life within my soul. Without the Eucharist, I believe the heart of my soul would stop beating, or in Jesus's words, without the Eucharist I believe I would have no life within me. And I'm not the only one who has felt that way either. Holy men and women across the centuries have said similar things about the Eucharist. Mother Theresa said, "We must not separate our life from the Eucharist. The moment that we do something shatters." "Our sharing in the body and blood of Christ has no other purpose than to transform us into that which we receive," says Pope Leo the Great. And Paul the sixth, said, "Jesus and the blessed sacrament is the living heart of each of our parishes." For three years of my life, I spent hundreds of days and thousands of hours before the tabernacle in a small church asking in the quiet of my heart, "Is that you, Jesus? Could it possibly ever really be you?" By some strange and marvelous mystery could this be what you meant when you said you would be with us always? And one day as tears streamed down my face, the answer came into the quiet of my heart. And I knew in the way that you just know when you fall in love that it was true. It really was the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus. A few months later when I came into the church, when I received my first communion at 21, it felt like my soul was beating with love for the first time. In this Sunday's gospel, Jesus, he feeds the 5,000 with five loaves and two fishes. Do you think the crowd knew what was happening? Did they know Jesus was foreshadowing precisely how he would be with us till the end of the age? Maybe they sensed something miraculous happening, but they probably didn't know the weight of it all, not the way that you and I do. Today, we celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi and today I will receive communion and I'll be thinking of my boy. And I'm going to be saying the special prayer to God for him, for his heartbeat, and for giving me what I need for the heart of my faith to beat ever new once again. And I hope you join me.