Before Jesus begins His parable in today’s Gospel, Luke introduces the story with two important pieces of information. The dinner which Jesus attends is at the home of one of the leading Pharisees, and the people there were observing Him carefully. It is an honor to be invited to the home of a prominent person. The people present at this dinner had to be important people, those in the town whom everyone knew, perhaps the movers and shakers of the Jewish community. Luke doesn’t tell us anything about them but he does tell us they were scrutinizing Jesus. Maybe they were considering bringing Him into their elite group. Maybe they had heard of His words and miracles and were simply in awe of His presence. Whatever the case, He was the center of attention. All eyes were on Him. His presence was dominant and captivating. Would that He would garner that same attention at every celebration of the Holy Mass.
On August 5th, the Pew Research Center released the results of a recent survey which indicted that 69% of Catholics who attended Mass do not believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist. Really? Seven of ten sitting in the pew this Sunday don’t believe? It seems unfathomable until we consider their actions in the Church, how they are dressed, their coming in late or leaving early, and their overall demeanor during Mass. Actions speak louder than words. Maybe the survey is spot on.
When we enter a Church, even when the Holy Mass is not celebrated, Christ is present—Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Perhaps today’s words from the letter to the Hebrews should be posted inside every Church: You have approached Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and countless angels in festal gathering, and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven, and God the judge of all, and the spirits of the just made perfect, and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and the sprinkled blood that speaks more eloquently than that of Abel.