First Communion

This Saturday, as we did last Saturday, we will celebrate Masses of First Communion in our parish.  These Masses almost always happen at the beginning of May, but because of the shutdown we had to move them to September.  In every parish, First Communion is one of the best days of the year, and I’m very proud of our kids and their families for being so patient during the time of delay.  During our rehearsals and often in my First Communion homily, I like to talk to those who will be making their First Communion about the great thing that they are about to do.  The dialogue usually goes like this:

Me: “So why is Saturday such a special occasion?” 

Them: “It’s First Communion!” 

Me: “Yes – but why is that a big deal?  What is Communion?” 

Them: “It’s when we receive the Body of Christ.” 

Me: “That’s right.  But, the Eucharist looks like bread, tastes like bread, feels like bread.  Isn’t it bread?” 

Them: “No.  It’s Jesus’ body.” 

Me: “But it looks, tastes, and feels like bread!  How can you be so sure that it’s Jesus’ body?” 

Them: “He told us that’s what it is.” 

Me: “He did?  When did He tell us that?” 

Them: “At the Last Supper.” 

Me: “Very good.  Every time we go to Mass we hear about the night before He was betrayed, when He was with His disciples.  At the meal, He took bread, said the blessing, broke the bread, gave it to His disciples and then said something.  What did He say?” 

Them: “This is my body.” 

Me: “Are you sure He didn’t say: ‘This represents my body?’ or ‘This is a symbol of my body?’ or ‘When you see this, think of my body?’” 

Them: “He said this IS my body.” 

Me: “That’s right, He did.  And does Jesus lie?” 

Them: “No.” 

Me: “That’s right, Jesus never lies.  He always tells the truth.  That’s because of who He is.  Who is Jesus?” 

Them: “He’s God.” 

Me: “Yes.  Jesus is God.  He is the Second Divine Person of the Most Holy Trinity.  When we make the Sign of the Cross we refer to the Son.  Jesus is the Son.  Here’s another question: is the Eucharist alive or dead?” 

Them: “Ummmm…. alive?” 

Me: “Yes, the Eucharist is alive.  The bread we use at Mass is not alive.  But when the priest says the words of Jesus from the Last Supper, the bread becomes the living flesh of Christ.  And how do we know that the Eucharist is alive?  Is Jesus alive?” 

Them: “Yes.” 

Me: “Very good.  Jesus died on the cross once – 2000 years ago.  And then three days later He rose from the dead, never to die again.  So when we encounter Jesus in the Eucharist, we encounter the living Jesus – and He shares His life with us through the sacraments.  You first received a share in His life when you were baptized, where you encountered Him in the Spirit.  But when you receive Communion you not only encounter Him in the Spirit, but also in the flesh.  So when you receive First Holy Communion, you will be closer to God than you ever have been since your baptism.  That’s why, in these days leading up to your First Communion, you should be thinking of what you want to say to Jesus when you meet Him in the Eucharist.  Something like: ‘I love you,’ or ‘Thank you for my life,’ or ‘Help me to know how you want me to use this life you’ve given me to serve you.’  And every time you see Him and receive Him in the Eucharist, remember to speak with Him and share with Him everything that’s in your heart.” 

Please pray for our kids who have received and who will receive First Holy Communion this year.  The Eucharist is central to who we are as Catholics.  It is the renewal of our faith in the Most Holy Eucharist, and the rediscovery of the treasure of the Mass, that will bring new life to the Church and greater peace and concord in our families, our towns, our nations, and our world. 

First Communicants by Elizabeth Nourse

posted 9/24/20

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