FIRST HOLY COMMUNION
Exod 16:1–8, Luke 22:14–27, 1 John 4:7–12
Today, we celebrate a very special Mass for these children who have been waiting to receive their first holy communion.
Children have been preparing for this day for one year, learning the basics of the faith and memorizing their prayers, just so that they would be ready for this moment, when for the first time in their lives, they will receive the Most Precious Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ under the form of bread. And these youngsters, 40 of them at this Mass, help us to remember and celebrate our own Communion and our own faith in the Eucharist. And I want to thank them for doing that. So the first thing I want to do is ask all our young people who are making their First Communion at this Mass, would you stand up so we can see you and so we can thank you? (Applause!)
Girls and boys, you have been looking forward to this day for a long time and now you are excited. You are special and important today and that is why we are all here for you. You look like princesses and princes! You have put on your best clothes to meet Jesus in Holy Communion. But more important than the clothes you wear is that you have also prepared your hearts to meet Jesus. That is why you made your First Confession and recently again your second Confession. You have been praying to Jesus every day because you want to make sure your heart is ready for Jesus. When Jesus comes to you, tell him you love him, and thank him for coming to you.
I have a question for you all that I don’t want you to answer right away. I want you to think about it for a little bit. We are here today because you all are going to be eating food and consuming drink that you’ve never eaten or drank before. Why is this different from any food or drink you’ve had before for the first time? Ok, now I have some questions that you can answer right away…
When you had pizza for the first time, did your parents call a lot of people in your family to tell about it? Were they like, “hey, little Johnny is going to eat pizza for the first time this Sunday! Isn’t that great?” Did they do that? No, they didn’t, did they? When you drank soda for the first time, did they have you all get dressed up in your best dress or suit? Did they say, “ok, now, Suzie, you are going to get dressed up this Sunday for when you have a cup of Coco-Cola for the first time”? Did they do that? No, they didn’t, did they? How about when you all had steak for the first time…did they say, “Ok, Billy, you’re going to eat steak for the first time this Sunday., and you’re going to do it with all of your friends and family, and meet up at OLS for it”? Did they do that? No, they didn’t, did they?
So, why are they doing all that today for the bread and wine you will eat and drink for the first time? What is so different about this food and drink that your family is here, you’re all dressed up, and we’re all together at OLS for it? Who can tell me?
(some answers given were: “it’s the Body and Blood of Jesus…it’s the Body and Blood of the Lord…it’s something that our whole family shares in”). Yes, very good. This is no ordinary food and drink – it’s the Body and Blood of Jesus. It’s the Bread of Life! It’s the Bread that’s comes down from heaven.
Yes! Jesus says, “this is my body”, and we believe him. He wasn’t joking around, and he never says anything that isn’t true. So, when he says about this bread and wine, “this is my body…this is my blood”, we believe that it isn’t bread and wine – it really is his body and blood! It looks like bread and smells like bread, but it isn’t bread – it’s the risen Body of Christ.
Now, I want you to cup your hands like you will in a few minutes to receive the Body of Christ. Look at your hands. In a few minutes, Jesus will be placed in your hands!/ tongue. He is the Son of God…the Creator of the Universe…and he will be in your hands. I would ask you to look at your tongues, but it’s kind of hard to do! But, it’s the same point…in a few minutes, Jesus will be placed on your tongue and into your mouth. Then, he will be in your stomach and soul.
He loves you so much and wants to be so close to you that he wants to be in you. And, of course, when we have Jesus within us, he helps us to love others as he loves. The best way for us to love is to receive the Eucharist!
After Mass everyone will make a fuss of you. I am sure you will have lots of nice things to eat. Jesus also wants you to have a good time. He wants you to enjoy yourselves. Just remember that it is all because Jesus has come to you. You will get presents and envelopes with money inside. But remember the most important present today is Jesus coming to you in Holy Communion. Jesus coming to you is the best gift you will receive today. Jesus is more important than all the money or presents or nice food. Continue to pray to Jesus and Mary every day because they love you so much.
Parents, for you too, this is a special day, and a happy day. Today you see your children take a new step in faith as you present them to share with us all in the fullness of the Lord’s Supper for the first time. It is through you more than anyone else they have come to know about God. And it is on you they will continue to depend for many years yet, to help them grow in their response to God’s love in their lives. No matter what the teacher, who is excellent, or parish does, unless the children sense their parents’ faith they will not absorb faith. The faith you hand on will be their strength through life. You hand on faith, you have no choice about that. The choice you have is to hand on the faith badly or well. Your family needs religion. It is not something they need only when there is a crisis. Teachers and priests cannot plant faith in the heart of your children if you do not. Jesus said, “What does it profit to gain the whole world but to lose your soul?” (Mark 8:36; Matt 16:26)
Relations, friends, teachers, people of the parish, this is a time of great rejoicing for you also. You have in various ways helped to lead these children to this special day. And you too have a care for their future growth in the faith. Remember them in your prayers.
Finally children the last word is for you. I still remember my First Holy Communion and remember the seat in the Church where I sat with my family. I hope you don’t forget today, your First Holy Communion Day. I want you all to pray many times as you receive Jesus in the Eucharist today. They are the three words that sum up everything we do at Mass: “thank you, Jesus”. Thank you, Jesus, for giving us your life, and for continuing to give us your life in the Eucharist. I ask you all to say in your hearts as you make your first Holy Communion, “thank you, Jesus”. May Jesus make this day a very happy day for you and your families. May he bring you great joy and fill your hearts with his love. Amen.