Fr. Mike Paraniuk
Fr. Mike Paraniuk
By Fr. Mike Paraniuk
St. Mary Catholic Church
and St. Benignus Catholic Church

I have been giving out Holy Communion to worshipers for over 43 years. But something happened last Sunday that made me realize the awesomeness of this exchange. I have done it for so long I took it for granted.

A St. Benignus parishioner, Theresa, came up to receive Holy Communion. I held up the sacred host to her and said, “The Body of Christ.” Normally, I place it in the hand and the one who receives departs for the pew.

As Theresa extended her hand, it was shaking. She was overcome by the realization that I was placing into her hand the Lord of Lords and the King of the Universe, Jesus Himself. Believing God would soon be touching her hand made it shake in anticipation.

I tried to calm her by jokingly underwhelming the moment. I said, “Don’t be afraid. It’s just God. He won’t hurt you.” When I said “God,” her hand shook even more. We both smiled. She received God. She happily went back to her pew to pray.

Peter, James and John were terrified (Mk 9:6) when they beheld the Divinity of God shining through Jesus. They hardly knew what to say. I bet they were shaking in their sandals. Mark records in verse 5 what Peter said, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here!”

I believe at every Mass and at every church service, the Transfiguration is recreated all anew. The word “transfiguration” means “a complete change of form or appearance into a more beautiful or spiritual state.”

Jesus changes our church building from brick and stone to God’s spiritual Temple. On that mountain, just like in this church, Jesus shows who He really is – the Divine, All Knowing, All Powerful, All Loving, All Perfect, All Faithful, All Good, All Just, All Merciful, All Gracious, All Holy Creator of the Universe so “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father… (Phil 2:10-11).

Every time we call upon the name of Jesus in church, He becomes present, makes Himself known, and reveals His Divinity in the Word of God and Holy Communion. We are drawn into the presence of our Beloved God in the Sacred Place we call “Church.”

Like Peter we too can declare, “it is good for us to be here!” It is good for us to be here because Jesus will touch you with His grace. Everyone that Jesus touches transforms for the better. Lepers were cleansed, the blind could see, the deaf could hear, the lame could walk and the sinners were forgiven.

This is why God wants you to worship him every week in Church. God knows in a week’s time you will need His Mercy to cleanse your sins over past seven days. That’s why we at the beginning of Mass we cry out “Lord, Have Mercy!” Jesus wants to transform your sickness into wholeness. He wants to heal every broken heart that walks through our church doors. There is a prayer the priest prays at Mass in which he refers to the Holy Communion as “a healing remedy.”

God the Father was at the Transfiguration. He spoke on that mountain. He said, “This is My Beloved Son. Listen to Him.” (Mark 9:7)

When we believe in Jesus and listen to His voice, all things will work to the good. Theresa of the shaking hand shared with me a frightening story that happened the next day after attending church. “Dan and I were reminiscing about our 54 years of marriage while driving our car on S.R. 138. We joked about how our Guardian Angels must be exhausted from taking care of us all those years. Within seconds of our discussion, we approached the intersection of S.R. 138 and old U.S. 35 where we had the right of way. A big red truck barreled through the intersection without even slowing at the stop sign. If it were just three seconds later, that truck would have rammed us from the side. It was going so fast we probably would both have died that day. I’m glad our Guardian Angels weren’t on a break.”

The God that made Theresa’s hands shake at the awesomeness of Holy Communion on Sunday is the same God whose Hand saved her and Dan on Monday.

With God on our side, we can proclaim every day, “It is good for us to be here!”