Even as a kid, if I wanted to drink from my brother’s water bottle, he asked me to “waterfall” it. When I was in college, it was alright to share a pint of ice cream with friends, even if there was only one (clean) spoon handy. But not everyone was on board. And it wouldn’t have been OK for them to put it in my mouth for me. That’s for wedding receptions. Or babies.
But if you go to Mass and receive communion regularly, this is happening to you. A man you call “Father,” whom you probably don’t know too well, puts your food in your mouth. Then you might go and stand in line with other people you don’t know too well, all to drink out of one chalice. Yes, we wipe the lip of the chalice each time, but that’s for Jesus’ sake, not for you. Other (approved) traditions involve a spoon, or even a straw.
This isn’t the whole picture of communion. But it’s what a guy might see walking in off the street—a guy who hasn’t shared a cup with strangers in his life. Communion is like this on purpose. It shows the invisible reality of the Eucharistic feast.
You are doing things here that belong to the intimacy of a family, of close friends, of a couple. That’s because this is a wedding banquet. It’s because the man distributing communion really shares in the Fatherhood of God to you. It’s because those other people in line really are your brothers and sisters. And it’s because we really are children who don’t know how to feed themselves—not with heavenly food, at least.
Open your mouth, and I will fill it. (Ps 81:10)
Photo by Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P. (used with permission)