Spiritual reality to Catholic Church: Girl’s first Communion invalid because wafer didn’t contain wheat (the girl suffers from a rare digestive disorder and cannot eat wheat).
Spiritual reality according to Scripture: “[Jesus] replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.’ You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.”
Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a man can make him ‘unclean’ by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him ‘unclean.’” – Mark 7:6-8, 14-15
Such is this false reasoning by the Church, that a Communion wafer must contain wheat. Jesus condemned this kind of behaviour and regulatory practice among the Pharisees, yet it can apply to anyone who subverts the Jesus’ message with textual conscription. Jesus’ proclamation that nothing outside could make one unclean was revolutionary, since Judaic law was built upon the duality of nature, that things were either “clean” or “unclean”, as designated by God. Not only did this serve as a sort of pre-government regulation health code, but was a conceit that figured throughout the Old Testament as a measure of the absolutes of the Law, the demands of holiness placed upon men by God, and man’s inability to conform to said Laws–just another indication that man could not and cannot live on bread alone (the Law) but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (God’s physical presence, so close you can hear his words).
What does a non-wheat Communion wafer have to do with cleanliness?
This is a sticky issue for me, since I don’t endorse giving children Communion unless they are in fact aware of the intent of the ritual. I’m not talking about doctrinal history, the hermaneutics of Christ’s death and resurrection and the Supper that preceded both that became the cornerstone of the Communal sacrament–just a basic knowledge and understanding of what Christ’s sacrifice means and an active belief in that sacrifice and more importantly, Christ’s resurrection that provides salvation.
Given that she does know what Communion means and believes that Christ has saved her, what is the difference between a wheat wafer or a rice wafer? Is one clean and the other not? Is one more holy than the other? The Church has made it about the bread, not the body–exactly as the Pharisees had done with their Corban rules of holy washing, of clean and unclean foods, of daily life, of spiritual life.
When Jesus said “Do this in remembrance of me,” somehow I doubt he was thinking “gluten-only bread, please”. The Pharisees in the Catholic Church would do well to consider that.