Raise your hand if you will receive your first Holy Communion at this Mass… What did we just hear the Lord Jesus say?
The Father and I will come and make our dwelling in you. (John 14:23)
God coming and dwelling in us. Dwelling in us, as our food for eternal life.
It all begins with Holy Baptism. The water of baptism cleanses us of original sin. The Blessed Trinity–the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit–the divine Trinity, God, becomes the furnace of our souls, when we receive baptism.
Baptism begins something that only Holy Communion can sustain and complete. Because the furnace in our souls needs fuel.
Jesus Himself received baptism–to begin His mission. Then He proceeded to undertake a long and hard pilgrimage, traveling from town to town to teach and heal; walking to Jerusalem to fulfill the ancient religion; and ultimately giving His life for us.
The Lord Jesus kept a fast, at one point. But He didn’t fast His whole life. We read in the gospels that He often ate. Eating is a crucial part of living, after all. And He ate not only to sustain His strength, but also to share HIs love. He shared festive social dinners with His friends. Every time, it meant not just bodily sustenance but also a foretaste of heavenly communion with God. “I drink this cup with you now,” He said to the Apostles. “Next time we will banquet together in the kingdom of heaven.”
It’s no accident that our little ones receive their first Holy Communion right at the time of life when our minds become our own. Right when we start to realize: I can decide to pray myself. I can say to God, and ask God, what I choose to say and ask.
Our little ones receive Holy Commuion at the time of life when everything stops being just a haze of sensory stimuli and starts being an on-going engagement with the reality of God and His plan for me. Jesus is becoming a real person, in the mind’s eye, for our little ones receiving Holy Communion for the first time today.
The real Person, born in Bethlehem of a beautiful, kind, prayerful mother named Mary. Raised by her, and by her hard-working, gentle, strong husband, Joseph. Jesus, Who studied, grew up, and did His mission in life. A mission that involved the cross.
It’s no accident that our little ones receive Holy Communion for the first time right at the point in life when the love of Christ, crucified for me, becomes something upon which to meditate. A lot of us have memories of how we started to think about Jesus, and what He did on the cross–when we were seven, eight, nine years old. When we, each of us, realized: He loves me. So let me love Him back.
“Do not be troubled or afraid,” He says. “I give you My peace.” “Not as the world gives do I give it to you.” (John 14:27)
Christ doesn’t give us His peace as something that inevitably will get old and decay. He doesn’t give us His peace for now–but we will soon get bored with it.
No. Receiving Holy Communion means that we can have the peace of God Himself, as our food. His peace is perfect happiness that never ends. Like a beautiful afternoon, with no homework. No rain, no fights, no problems of any kind. Just pure fun. I remember when I was seven or eight, I went over to a friend’s house. His father served us a snack. Toasted bagels, with butter melting in every little fluffy bite. I had never had a bagel before. It tasted like heaven on earth!
At every age–from seven or eight on up–we have responsibilities. Which means we can suffer anxiety. But Jesus has done everything so that we can have interior peace. We can have within the peace that He had within–the peace He had, even when He stretched out His arms on the cross.
Now, of all the things Jesus did, what’s the biggest of them all? He died…then He rose again! When we receive Holy Communion, eternal life is our food. The undying life of Christ dwells within us, and feeds our interior furnace.
Congratulations to you! Now let’s pray hard through the rest of Mass…