Saturday, May 10, 2014

May 10, 2014: First Communion, 4th Sunday of Easter A

If you could ask the Pope one question, what would it be? In 2006, children and their families were invited to Rome for a special gathering of children making their First Communion. A few of the children were given a chance to ask a question directly to Pope Benedict XVI. A little girl named Andrea asked this question. “Dear Pope, what are your memories of your First Communion day?”

Pope Benedict replied, “It was a lovely Sunday in March 1936, 69 years ago. It was a sunny day, the church looked very beautiful. There were so many beautiful things that I remember. There were about 30 of us, boys and girls from my little village. But at the heart of my joyful and beautiful memories is this one… I understood that Jesus had entered my heart, he had actually visited me. And with Jesus, God himself was with me. And I realized that this is a gift of love that is truly worth more than all the other things that life can give.”

Andrea then asked: “In preparing me for my First Communion day, my catechist told me that Jesus is present in the Eucharist. But how? I can't see him!” Pope replied, “No, we cannot see him, but there are many things that we do not see but they exist and are essential [for example electricity]… we do not see the very deepest things, those that really sustain life and the world, but we can see and feel their effects. So it is with Jesus: we do not see him with our eyes but we see that wherever Jesus is, people change, they improve… Therefore, we do not see the Lord himself but we see the effects of the Lord: so we can understand that Jesus is present.

Finally, a little boy named Alessandro asked the Pope: “What good does it do for our everyday life to go to holy Mass and receive  Communion?” The Pope replied, “[Eucharist] centers life. We live amid so many things. And the people who do not go to church, do not know that it is precisely Jesus they lack. But they feel that something is missing in their lives. If God is absent from my life, if Jesus is absent from my life, a guide, an essential friend is missing, even an important joy for life, the strength to grow as a man...

We must always remember that Jesus is our friend who lives within us.  If Jesus is in each of us, then we must remember that Jesus is in the person next to us, He is in the person in front of us, and Jesus is in the person behind us.  Some days in may be hard to remember that Jesus is in your mom -- such as when she is yelling at you to clean your room. Sometimes it may be hard to remember that Jesus lives in your dad -- such as when he is mad that you broke a window in your house.  There may be times when it is hard to see Jesus in your best friend -- such as when he lost you favorite toy. However, we need to see Jesus within our family, friends and neighbors even when they are not acting very loving. We grow in holiness when we choose to see Jesus in those around us and our hearts and their hearts are transformed.

Today when you receive Jesus in the Eucharist for the first time, I’d like for you to make a special request to Jesus after you return to the pew. Ask Jesus,  “Jesus, you come down from Heaven to visit me today. What a special privilege! Will you be my friend and guide me in every moment of my life?” Parents, family and friends, let us also make that request to Jesus.