Tuesday, May 20, 2014

5th Sunday of Easter: First Communion

           Well congratulations to our 2nd graders on their first communion!
            I see that our girls are wearing white dresses.  Are you getting married today?!  “No!  These are first communion dresses!”  Wow—I didn’t know there was a specific dress for first communion.  I thought you were all getting married! 
            Tell me, why are you wearing white today?  “They are for Jesus.”  Yep, they are for Jesus, but I usually wear black and that is also for Jesus.  So why are you wearing white?  “White is for purity.”  There you go…you are getting warmer.  Tell me: you wore another white outfit a while ago…when was that?  And I’ll give you a hint—it was when you were a baby.  “Baptism!”  Exactly.  Each of us wore white when we were baptized as a symbol that we were purified by Jesus.
            During school Mass I often quiz our students.  Today I would first like to quiz our parents.  Don’t worry, this is an easy one.  You 2nd graders are seven or eight years old.  So parents, what have been your favorite moments in the first seven or eight years of your child’s life?  [Silence].  Well, I imagine their birth was pretty important!  We just celebrated Mother’s Day and Father’s Day is coming soon.  Thank you, Moms and Dads, for your openness to life.
            So what have been the coolest moments of your son or daughters’ life so far?  “Their first steps…” “Their first words…” “Baptism.”  Great, but how about in their earthly life?  “First day of school…”  What about you hunters and fishermen?  “First fish…”  And I heard that one of our students recently got their first animal.  N, what did you get?  “A chipmunk!”  [This marksmen got a chipmunk with a bow and arrow!]
            Our parents and children have already experienced a number of moments—milestones—in their lives.  Think about another one: learning to ride a bike.  Imagine all the hard work biking with training wheels and the day on which these training wheels were taken off.  Kids, here is a question: after you learned to ride a two-wheeler, did any of your parents put your bike away and tell you, “Now that you have learned that, we can put the bike away forever?”  “No!”  Well, what did they do with your bike?  “We rode it!”
            When a child learns to ride a bike, they don’t put the bike away as if they check it off a list.  When you go to school on the first day, they don’t say, “Well, that’s done!”  Whenever we achieve milestones in our lives, these are not meant to be put away, but to be lived out. 
            I don’t mean to be depressing on this joyous occasion of your first communion, but do you know what the saddest part of being a priest is?  Seeing a child baptized and not seeing them again.  Or witnessing someone receive first communion and not seeing them after.  Or celebrating someone in high school being confirmed and that’s it. 
            When I look at our families who are celebrating first communion today I am impressed.  You are no strangers to our parish and are faithful to coming to Mass each week.  Fr. Rich noted this before Mass today: most of you are at Mass each week.  I can’t thank you enough as this is a special blessing to have so many of you already living out your faith weekly.  Know you are all most welcome here!
            One more question—do you know what is as important as your first communion?  This is a truly special day, but what is a day that is as important?  Your second communion!  And your third.  And your fourth.  And your fiftieth.  And your one-thousandth. 
            Just as when we learn to ride a two-wheel bike and don’t put the bike away, so too we receive our first communion to receive our second.  Your faith does not end today—it is a new beginning as you receive Jesus’ body and blood.  Our first communicants more fully enter “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own…” 
            Our prayer for you today—that this first communion is not your last communion. 
            We continue to celebrate sacred Mass.  Know how joyful we are that you join us in communion, and how much we want you to join us every week!

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