When we are about to receive Holy Communion the priest or Eucharistic Minister holds up the host and says, "The Body of Christ," and we respond "Amen." What other words could the priest or minister say? They could say, as in today’s gospel, "This is the Bead of Life," or "This is Bread from Heaven," or "This is the flesh of Jesus for the life of the world." They could also take words from other sections of the gospels and say, "This is the Good Shepherd," or "This is the Light of the World."
In chapter three of John’s gospel we read the famous words, "God so loved the world that he sent his only Son." That means, when the host is presented to us, the priest or minister could correctly say, "This is the Love of God." Yes, we receive the love of God. The love of God dwells within our very being. "If anyone eats this bread he shall live forever." What an infinitely great gift is the Holy Eucharist!
What is to be our response to this great gift? Let’s take our cue from St. Peter. We know that he didn’t do very well along the way of the cross. He denied Jesus three times. But he was sorry. And after the resurrection, Jesus appeared to Peter and asked him a question. He asked, "Peter, do you love me?" What does Peter reply, "Yes Lord, I love you." Jesus asked him again, "Peter, do you love me?" Again Peter stated, "Yes Lord, you bet I love you." A third time Jesus asks him, "Peter, do you love me?" I can see Peter shouting it out this time, "Yes, Lord, with all my heart." Peter was totally committed to Jesus. (cf. John 21:15-19)
That’s what our "Amen" means when we receive Holy Communion. "Amen, Yes Lord, I love you. Yes Lord, you bet I love you. Yes Lord, I love you with all my heart." When we say "Amen" we proclaim our commitment to Jesus. Love responds to love. Love unites with love. Then we are sent forth to spread love "for the life of the world."
Fr. Alan Phillip, C.P. is a member of the Passionist Community at Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.