Taking communion to the sick and elderly is part of my ministry as a deacon, serving those at the margins of our world.
In the past three months I have taken communion to three persons who died shortly after my visit. I was also able to participate in their funeral. It is a great privilege to share the Eucharist with the dying a Viaticum, food for the journey.
But there was another visit which reveals to me the healing power of the Eucharist. I visited in April but I learned of this yesterday while taking Communion to the sick in San Agustín. There I encountered a young woman, a catechist from a remote village of the parish.
She told me that her mother, who has been suffering severely for years from complications from an operation, has been able to get around and even get to church since the day when I brought Communion in April.
The older woman and her husband live far from the center of the village and you have to walk at least part of the way.
I had visited the couple twice before, in 2016. The first time was on Good Friday and they arranged my transport to their home on a horse. The second time was the day after I was ordained deacon. Both times I was accompanied by their son, Juan Ángel, a delegate of the Word in the village who was also preparing to be an extraordinary minister of Communion. He died a few months after my visit.
This April, after a Sunday Celebration of the Word with Communion, I went to visit them again. This time I could take my car part of the way but we had to walk about 20 minutes uphill.
I arrived and we talked for several minutes. I mentioned that I had the Eucharist with me if she wanted to receive Communion. She seemed hesitant. She told me she had not gone to confession for some time – because she couldn’t walk the 45 minutes or more to the church and the priest had not had the opportunity to visit her at home. Here, in Honduras, there is often the belief that you must confess before receiving communion.
So she had had no opportunity to go to confession for years. I mentioned to her that what should stop us from receiving Communion is when one has committed a mortal sin and not confessed it. I, in questions which were both serious and a bit playful, to consider if she had committed a mortal sin. Had she killed someone? Had she slept with someone other than her husband? Had she denied God?
I wasn’t expecting her to answer me – they were rhetorical questions. But she said that every morning she prays and asks God’s forgiveness.
I then told her that we would go forward with the prayers and, when it was time for communion, she could decide.
We prayed and, when it was time for communion, she received the Body of Christ.
I left with a deep sense of her faith and of the way that Christ has been present for her – and for me.
When I heard yesterday from her daughter that she was getting better and could get up and even get to the church for celebrations, I was amazed and grateful. Receiving the Lord in Communion gave her the grace to get up, gave her the strength to move out from her house, gave he the healing to reincorporate herself in the life of the community, especially the church.
What is tomorrow’s Gospel? The healing of the woman with a hemorrhage, twelve years suffering but trusting in the power of Jesus, if she could only touch Him.
Jesús touched Doña Reina and she got up. How the Gospel fits her experience. I hope she can recognize that tomorrow.
The Eucharist, the Body of Christ, heals and reincorporates us into the Body of Christ, the People of God, the Church.
The Lord has been good to us. We are very glad.