This weekend a number of our young parishioners celebrate the reception of First Holy Communion. There are a number of aspects of this sacrament that we can examine that involve our personal relationship with Christ within the context of the Eucharist.
You often hear people say as a reason they don’t attend mass “I don’t get a lot out of it.” Let’s say you’re sick and the doctor prescribes a small pill and says “Take this daily for 10 days.” What would happen if your response was, “When I take the pill, I don’t immediately feel anything” or “It’s not very tasty” or “It’s not very big so it doesn’t fill me up like a meal.” If you came up with these or similar excuses you might eventually say, “OK I’ll take a pill today and maybe tomorrow. After that maybe I’ll take it, maybe not.” What would be the result? You stay sick or might even get wore. Consistency I receiving the Eucharist is critical, even when you don’t “feel” any immediate effects (or even when you don’t “feel” any effects for a long time). It’s not about the feeling. It’s about the relationship with Christ. Even people in love and married couples don’t “feel” in love all of the time. But the consistence in the relationship over the long term is what makes the relationship successful.
On a natural level, you can’t exist without a community – family, friends, colleagues, teammates. God doesn’t exist without community. Just like you can’t exist alone on a natural level, on a SUPERnatural level, you will never grow and thrive without the community of the Holy Trinity.
Even Jesus is someone who chose not to exist without a community. He had three close friends – Peter, James and John. He had women friends. He had 12 apostles. He had 72 disciples. Jesus is a man who has everything – except you. He can’t have you unless you choose him first.
The world will intrude on you. School and work will intrude on you. Sports and activities will intrude on you. You have to decide what’s important – Christ or the world. Your time in a particular sport or activity is limited. Heaven or hell is forever. Which will you choose over time?
Comfort, Consolation and Care –
These are supernatural gifts from God to help you when life gets difficult. But like all gifts, they’re bundled up in a wrapping. And the wrapping is the Eucharist. It’s there. It’s available. It’s free. But you have to come to the gift store, and receive the gift.
This is about acquiring some kind of direction in your life. Who are you? Why are you even on this earth? What do you want to do when you grow up? Or, considering a decision that will come sooner in your life, where are you going to school next?
How do you get the answers to these questions so that you can be sure that you not only survive, but thrive? Remaining in constant contact with the Lord Jesus in the Eucharist allows him to speak to your heart and your mind. You can also rely on the advice and counsel of other “Eucharistic people” who will get similar promptings and can confirm that what you are sensing about your life’s direction is correct.
Courage in the face of Criticism –
If you make Christ a priority, some people will think that you’re a little strange. Some people will think that you are silly. They thought the same of Jesus:
John 15:18-21 – “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.
Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.
Reception of the Eucharist helps to build the virtue of “fortitude” in you and also provides wisdom to be able to engage such criticisms in a way that might encourage your critics to reconsider their attitude towards you and towards Christ.
This is about protection. There are things in the world that do not like you. There are things that happen in life that can scare you. Christ offers not answers and comfort but protection as well. He protects your emotions so that you have a way to deal with troubling thoughts. He also provides protection, often in thoughts and a “spiritual sense” when you might be in a situation that could be dangerous, thus affording you an opportunity to escape.
There’s another reason for consistent reception of the Eucharist. It is that, believe it or not, Christ actually needs you. Here’s a poem:
We heard of Dorothy Day, Mahatma Gandhi and Oscar Romero in days past. These days we’ve heard of Alexandra Scott (founder of “Alex’s Lemonade Stand), Fire Chief Ron Bucca and Catholic priest Mychal Judge ( were killed trying to rescue people on 9/11), 13 year old Blare Gooch from Grand Rapids, MI founder of Blare’s Bears for Haiti which collected and gave 25,000 teddy bears to children of that island nation.
They knew your hunger Lord and they knew your thirst. They are the love you used to wipe away every tear upon every face.
As you join with Christ in the Eucharist, YOU become the “love of Jesus” in real, concrete, human form to place a smile on people’s faces and to “wipe away every tear upon every face.”
Audio version of the homily is here: