The "Hunger Games" for the Eucharist

If you were born in the early 2000s, or before that, there is a good chance the photo above may look familiar.

For those who don’t know the movie The Hunger Games, it is set in a dystopian world, where children from various districts in a country are selected by lottery to participate in an annual televised death match called the Hunger Games. As the name implies, many of the competitors fighting for survival have no access to sustenance and starve to death.

Sounds crazy, right? But what if this were to be happening on a worldwide scale—and for something much more important than life itself... eternal life, in the Eucharist?

Right now, in Singapore (and possibly in other countries) we have an online booking system whereby slots for Mass are released every week. We can only attend Mass with a booking. Depending on the government’s regulations, the size of one’s parish and the number of volunteers available, there can be as few as 50 slots. As you can imagine, Mass slots for Sunday Mass and days of special feasts can run out in five minutes or less; going to Mass (at least here) now implies depriving somebody else of the chance to attend Mass.

This is the new “Hunger Games:” where we fight not for physical food, but for the Bread of Life; we fight not nameless competitors, but our own brethren in the body of Christ, all of us hungering for the same Bread for which we were created. Is this not much worse a loss than that of physical life—to lose the Eucharist, bread of eternal life, foretaste of Heaven?

In times of persecution, the early Church bonded in solidarity and prayed for each other as well as their persecutors; right now, our “competition” has apparently been subverted to become our own brothers and sisters. But the truth is that it is not them we have to “fight against;” rather, it is the unjust system that pits us against one another, and which prevents Jesus from entering—in Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity—into the hearts of so many faithful who are hungering for Him. We have to pray for God’s will to be done in this worldwide situation of crisis, so that we can all receive Jesus once again. 

For those of us privileged enough to attend Mass frequently (hopefully daily), this is a good time to reflect on how we live the Mass, with the awareness that there are so many out there who cannot receive the Eucharist. We can ask ourselves:

1. Are we aware that each Mass could be our last, or do we take the Eucharist for granted? Do we give thanks for the gift of being able to go to Mass?

2. Are we conscious of the responsibility that being able to go for Mass entails? How do we prepare ourselves to receive Jesus each day? Do we drag our feet walking to church, or run with joy thinking of how long Jesus has been waiting for us?

3. How do we live the Mass? Do we make efforts to be vigilant in guarding against distractions? Are we aware of what the priest is doing at each part of the liturgy, and what it symbolizes? Have we made the effort to receive formation so that we can understand the importance of Mass and to live it better?

4. When we pray the Our Father, do we truly ask God the Father to “give us this day our daily bread,” not only for ourselves but for all in grace? 

5. Do we spread love for the Eucharist among our family and friends, encouraging them to go to Mass and to receive Jesus? Do we go to confession frequently, and if (it should unfortunately be the case) we have committed a mortal sin, so that we can receive Jesus with a clean heart?

If we find that we have not been faithful in living out the first mission of the Home—to defend the Eucharist—let us run to our Lady, Mother of the Eucharist and our Mother. Ask Her to intercede for us to have a greater love for the Eucharist, and to receive Jesus as She did, with such purity, humility and devotion, so that we can truly be transformed into what we consume. 

“The Father in heaven urges us, as children of heaven, to ask for the bread of heaven. [Christ] himself is the bread who, sown in the Virgin, raised up in the flesh, kneaded in the Passion, baked in the oven of the tomb, reserved in churches, brought to altars, furnishes the faithful each day with food from heaven” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2837).

-Winnie Ng