When faced with the unusual, it is easy to have doubts until we have seen for ourselves, and sometimes even seeing does not lead to believing. The statement, “I’ll not believe it until I see it” is familiar to us all. However, as Christians we have been given a wonderful gift, like the man in this Sunday’s Gospel, we too have asked of the Jesus, “Lord may I see.” And by faith, our spiritual eyesight is possible.
There are times in our liturgy when we are challenged to see by faith. Can you recall the line in “The Sixth Sense,” “I see dead people?” Well, so do I. And, you do too. Looking around any church one will see various images, icons and statues of the saints. However, we also see them with eyes of faith and each eucharistic prayer reminds us that we are united in the communion of saints and invoke them to be with us, and intercede for us in our daily lives.
During the Liturgy of the Word we see the two books from which the Scriptures are proclaimed. One is the Lectionary, the other the Book of the Gospels. They look like any other book. If they are set down they remain in that spot, yet in the Book of Hebrews we are told “The word of God is alive and active.” Our faith helps us to see a book that is alive, with words that are a living force working in our lives.
Within the eucharistic prayer, at the time of the epiclesis, we see the priest extend his hands over the bread and wine. We hear “Make holy these gifts … by sending your Holy Spirit upon them like the dewfall.” (Eucharistic Prayer II.) What many could interpret as a simple gesture of blessing, our faith tells us that an indiscernible action is happening, the Holy Spirit has come among us.
The pinnacle of our “sight by faith” is reached at the consecration. After the institution narrative, the priest takes each of the sacred elements and raises them up for our adoration. We are not gazing upon a white round circle of wheat, or a chalice filled with wine, we know we are looking on the very body and blood of Jesus Christ, the very Christ whom in a few moments will come to us as his very flesh and blood. Perhaps no greater act of faith is ever demanded of us.
After the consecration, the sacred elements do not remain static on the altar until Communion, rather they are the sacrificial offering to God the Father. We “see” an angel hovering, God’s angel to be specific. In Eucharistic Prayer I, we ask God’s holy angel to bear to God’s throne our offering of Jesus and our request that we be filled with blessings. I always smile at these words. We mere mortals struggle to serve God; imagine being the sole angel whose assignment it is to do God’s bidding!
I often wonder why an angel of such great importance has not been given a name? Perhaps it is to remind us that one should serve in a self-sacrificing manner. On a lighter note, think about this deep question. Consider God, in the image we sometimes like to ascribe to him, of an old, white-haired man. There he is in heaven, his faithful angel at his side, and God sneezes … what does the angel say?
When we gather at liturgy, let us pray as the blind man did, “Lord may I see” and let us wait on the faith that gives us a holy vision.
Zahorik is pastoral associate at Most Blessed Sacrament Parish, Oshkosh.