In the early 1950’s, there were probably close to 150 second grade children receiving their First Holy Communion at Saint Peter’s Parish in Dorchester. I remember getting new clothes and shoes and a haircut. There were the rehearsals, I think a number of them. Additionally, folks inside the family and around the neighborhood would be asking, “When are you going to make your First Communion?” All of this and more prepared one for something big!
We learned that we would be receiving Jesus and that he was truly present in the little round white piece of bread that we would receive on that special day. Now I think children have wonderful imaginations and are rather good at thinking outside the box. It seems only later in life that we are constrained by logic, reason, education, and life experiences. Nonetheless, I had to wonder why Jesus would do this, namely, become a piece of bread so that he could come to be with me and all the other kids on this remarkable Sunday of our First Holy Communion.
That simple question of wondering why Jesus would do this is one that I’ve asked myself now for decades. I think it’s a really good question and, while I thought I would have bigger more theologically profound answers to the question
today than I did 70 years ago, I’m not sure that I do. For me, the answer then and now is found in Love.
God is love and love of its very nature is giving. Just as the Father gives self to the Son and the Father and Son give selves to the Spirit bringing about the Trinity, so Jesus gives himself fully to us in the Church and in and through the sacraments, most particularly in the Eucharist. The self-gift of Jesus in the Eucharist is the greatest proof of Love.
In our culture and our Church, all too easily we can mingle the question of worthiness and sin with the truth of God’s love. Just as we cannot merit the love of God, we cannot earn, qualify or ever be worthy of such immeasurable love. In
fact, it is not about our goodness or badness. Rather it is about the reality of the unconditional love that is God – a relentless love that seeks union with you and me.
The Eucharist is a gift of immeasurable proportion. The body of Christ is offered time and again in selfless sacrificial gift to nourish, heal, and unite the people of God. It is everything we need to become whole. That is, it is the essence of love for which every human heart longs.
In addition to receiving Holy Communion, spending time in quiet presence before the Most Blessed Sacrament is a wonderful practice. Through the years, we have had such opportunities in our Parish, often called “Eucharistic Adoration.
With all restrictions easing we will begin once again to offer times for Eucharistic Adoration. This weekend we celebrate the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) and we will have a brief period of Adoration after each of the Masses. Additionally, each Friday afternoon from 3 – 5, we will have Adoration in the Chapel at the Parish Center at 46 Winthrop Street. Anyone is welcome to come by for a visit of whatever length during those hours.
As I have grown older, my childhood question of why Jesus would come to us in such a way yields the same answer, yet it is so very much bigger!
Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
Today’s Gospel gives St. Mark’s account of Jesus gathering his disciples for a last supper, revealing to them a new covenant established through his own blood that would be poured out as a sacrifice from them.
Every time we participate in the Eucharist, we make a pledge to renew and deepen our participation in Christ’s covenant in practical ways.
For those who exercise stewardship of Christ’s covenant, that means making daily, personal sacrifices to strengthen this covenant relationship such as deepening our relationship with the Lord in prayer, supporting our parish, and giving comfort to the poor and those who suffer.
As we begin to see our way out of the COVID pandemic, it is a good time to reflect on how we
might renew and strengthen our covenant with the Lord and our community in practical ways.