By: Bradley Opitz
You know when you find something you can’t imagine life without it? For many of that thing is a relationship with a good friend, pet or a cell phone. This is a story about that; the one thing in my life that I can’t live without.
I grew up in Marietta, GA and my family was not particularly religious. We went to Mount Bethel United Methodius church on Christmas and Easter and on a hand full of Sundays throughout the years. I had friends who went to church. Growing up in the south it’s hard not to have friends like that. At that point the only thing that would make me appear to be a Christian was the fact that I celebrated Christmas, or rather I celebrated receiving video games and wool socks. I had friends who were involved with Young Life and they invited me to different events with them. I had other friends who went to the youth group at Johnson’s Fairy Baptist church and I would go with them to events. My sister, who was in collage at the time, invited me to go to the church she was attending, North Point Community church on Sunday mornings when she was in town. Looking back at that point in my life, I can see that God was quietly saying, “Follow Me”.
There was a point at the end of my sophomore and in to my junior year of high school that I had begun to feel restless. It was not the kind of restlessness that you would feel on a Friday or Saturday night sitting in a Wendy’s parking lot complaining that there was nothing to do in this town. But, rather it was the kind of restlessness that I could feel deep in my bones, almost as if I have been stuck in the middle seat between two big guys on a five-hour flight kind of restless. I couldn’t tell why I felt that way but I just knew that I did.
There was a girl who sat next to me in homeroom. Her name was Katie. We became good friends because we had a lot of the same classes and we were forced to sit next to each other and it helped that her last name came after mine in the alphabet. She would occasionally invite me to come to XLT with her and I would politely turn her down or say, “Yeah, that would be fun”, but actually have no intension of going. After a few weeks of her persistently asking, I finally committed and told her that I would go.
At first it was noting that I had not seen before; praise and worship and a message. But, then something happened that I had never experienced. It made me uncomfortable because I didn’t understand it. It was the Eucharist. I sat there watching a whole auditorium filled with people kneeling before the Eucharist in adoration. My initial thought was, “I don’t know what that is, so I will sit here pray quietly to myself”. I didn’t want to kneel. The floor was hard. Leaving XLT I had the feeling of being out of my comfort zone. I went with Katie the next week and then again the following week. I followed my friend to a dark auditorium filled with people and a simple piece of bread at the center of attention. Unwittingly I followed her to a moment with Christ that would change my life. The priest before adoration, described what we were about to encounter. While I was sitting there, for the first time in my life I allowed myself to be found by God, and for the first told him where I was, and for the first time I heard him speaking in His quiet eternal voice, “Stop looking. You are home”.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus is found speaking to his disciples, “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will rise him up at the last day’” (John 6:53-54).
This was that moment, when I found something that life would be incomplete without. I can no longer see how a life can exist without the Eucharist being at the center of it. Having a spiritual life without the Eucharist being at the center is like eating cookies without milk or trying to drive a car with no gas in the tank. It does not work.
The mystery of the Eucharist is beautiful if you take the time to think about it and pick it apart. If you look closely this has been something, throughout salvation history that God has slowly and in stages has prepared us to receive. From the time that God created the universe complete with all the stars and planets, to the time of Adam and Eve disobeying God in the garden generating the great chasm of sin that separated us from our God, to the faithful following God into the desert to be freed from slavery so that they might rely on him for the manna that fell from the sky that gave them life, to the incarnation of Christ with his words and deeds that allowed the Apostle Peter to proclaim that he is the Messiah, giving the Apostles and disciples reason to authentically believe Christ when he said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life” (Jn. 6:51). An encounter with the Eucharist is an encounter that did not leave my life in the same way as it was found.
The Eucharist continually calls me to have it at the very center of my live. I was received into the Church on Easter in 2003, my senior year of high school because of the Eucharist. There is not a day that goes by without the Eucharist being on my mind, challenging me and slowly molding me into the person I was created to be. The Eucharist is the one thing I am incomplete without.