In his liturgical traipse around the streets of Armagh Amy Martin was displaying a very clericalized and paternalistic theology of the Presence of Jesus.
Jesus Himself never used the term “The Real Presence”. It has come out of the mouths of Roman Catholic men and theologians.
The RCC wants to emphasise that Jesus is as physically present in the Blessed Sacrament as He was on the streets of Nazareth or Jerusalem.
I believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. I always have.
But when two or three gather to pray – in say, their own living room, The Real Presence of Jesus is there too – “Where two or three gather together in my name I am in their midst”.
Some RCC’s might say that Jesus is spiritually present in that sitting room?
But when it comes to talking about God there is nothing more real as His spiritual presence. After all God is spirit.
But what the RCC men are really saying is: “He may be spiritually present in your sitting rooms – but folks, we have his skin and his blood cells and we have them locked away in our big gold tabernacles”.
“And what’s more – we will only give you little bits of Him if you so everything we tell you”.
“And if you don’t behave as we say, we will not give you any little bits of Him”.
“And if you are as bold and disobedient as that bad Pat Buckley we will excommunicate you – and for your whole life we will never give you a little bit of Jesus”.
And that was the mindset of poor old Phonsie in Waterford the day he refused me Holy Communion in front of a packed funeral church.
You see the bishops and priests think they own the Body and Blood of Jesus and they will only give you a bit if you meet their criteria and conditions.
Of course the problem I present them with is that once they made me a part of their caste and gave me the power to make the Body and Blood of Jesus – a power which they can never take back.
So when they say to me: “You can’t have our bits of Jesus” – I say back to them – “I don’t need your bits of Jesus because I can make my own. That really infuriates them. It disempowers them.
Simple Catholics think the that pope or the bishops can stop you being a priest or eject you from priesthood. Not true. Even their own theology does not say that.
When a priest, like Brendan Smyth is “dismissed from the clerical state” it only means he is no longer a cleric. But he remains a priest. And he even retains the obligation to administer the Last Rites to someone in danger of death if no other priest is available.
So we need a whole new look at the theologies of priesthood and the Eucharist.
We need to find ways to express the fact that Jesus is not owned by the priests, that His other forms of Presence are as REAL as His Eucharistic form.
Put simply, we must release Jesus from the PRISONER OF THE TABERNACLE – whose jailors are bishops and priests!