I grew up in a faith-filled Norwegian Lutheran family in Brooklyn, New York. We attended church every week, hardly ever missed Sunday School class, and actively participated in the life of the congregation.
After moving to Minnesota, I felt myself deeply drawn to the Liturgy and teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. To be honest, it felt like coming home—like bringing my Lutheran faith to a deeper place. My parents, however, were not happy at all. My mother, especially, was filled with misconceptions and old baggage of the Catholic Church.
During one visit to Minnesota, my parents joined me at Mass in the Catholic church I was attending. It happened to be the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. The pastor was Fr. Michael Joncas and he preached a powerful and prophetic homily. He proclaimed: in the Holy Eucharist and through our Baptism, Jesus lives intimately within each of us. Indeed, we become the very presence of Christ. And this is no soft theory. He went on to articulate the power of this mystical transformation as he challenged us: if we believe and trust in the presence of Christ, we are compelled to carry this presence into our everyday world. In every thought, word, and deed, Jesus offers us the gift of himself to lead, guide, and protect us in our journey of faith.
I remember this homily vividly—even more than 35 years later. It was so inspiring. And I remember my faither’s response when we left the church that morning: My Lutheran faither exclaimed, “If this is what they preach in this church, you are in the right place!” He was deeply moved and felt the power of the Spirit in the Church.
Every day, we have the invitation to grow deeper into this mystical union—to grow in our awareness of, and our participation in, God’s love. We are invited to be open and allow our lives to be molded and shaped by the compassionate, forgiving, serving, healing, and empowering love of God. This can bring us to places of discomfort that need healing, or to wounds and broken relationships that need restoration. We walk by faith—trusting God is with us, in us, and around us.
When I receive Eucharist at Mass, the words of the Eucharistic Minister offering the Body of Christ are impressed in my heart and mind as the host is pressed in my hand. I feel a deep connection as our eyes meet—I know I am not alone.
Let us support one another, as we grow in knowing and believing the mystical truth that we are the Body of Christ. And let us work together to create a revolution of love and tenderness, as we transform our community in light of this reality of love.
Pope Francis reminds us, “The Eucharist is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.” God is calling us to this union. Let us ask God for the grace to say yes, together.
Director of Christian Life