3rd Sunday of Easter, Year A – Homily

3rd Sunday in Easter, Year A
Acts 2:14, 22-33
1 Peter 1:17-21
Luke 24:13-35
May 4, 2014

First Communion

The disciples are walking on the road to Emmaus, troubled by what has happened, naming the Crucifixion and the empty tomb.  As they walk, they do what we should all do, they are discussing faith.

As they walk, Jesus comes along and joins them but they do not recognize him.  He asks them what they are talking about.  They are astonished that he would ask the question.  How could he not know what they were talking about?

For them, nothing could be more important than what has happened to Jesus.  They cannot imagine someone not knowing and talking about this.

Has your faith ever been that important to you?  Do you talk about our faith?

The disciples continue on their way as they converse with Jesus.  Jesus talks to them about how everything that has happened is in accord with what had been written down in scripture.  The disciples listen attentively to what Jesus says but they do not realize that he is Jesus.

They like what they hear enough that they invite him to stay with them.  As he stayed with them, they shared bread.  It was when Jesus broke the bread that they realized who he was.

This is fitting for our faith for it was no ordinary breaking of the bread that Jesus offered to them.  It is the Eucharist, the bread and wine becoming the Body and Blood of Jesus, Jesus made present in the bread and wine in a way never heard of before.

It is this same breaking of the bread that we celebrate every time we come for Mass.  Our belief in the breaking of the bread and the real presence is fundamental to our identity as Catholics.

With this in mind, we celebrate something very special this weekend at all our Masses.  We have eighteen of our children receiving their First Communion this weekend.

They have been preparing for this special day since January.  Actually, their preparation for this day began with the baptism, continued as they came to church and their parents taught them about our faith.  It took on a new level when they started in our school or religion classes.  Really, the preparation work they did in the last four months is really the culmination of all of this.

So this is a very special day for them, a day to remember.  I think it can also be a day for all of us to think about what it means to receive Communion.

For me two phrases come to mind, real presence and reverence.

Real Presence because it is not just bread and wine we receive.  It is Jesus.  It still looks like bread and wine.  It still tastes like bread and wine but it is Jesus.  In coming forth for Communion, we desire to become what we receive.  We desire to become like Jesus.

Because we believe it really is Jesus that we receive in Communion, we must show a great reverence.  We don’t just pass the consecrated hosts around as we would with a bowl of candy.  We come forth in solemn procession.  Our coming forth is an expression of our desire to come to Jesus.  So, it must be done with reverence.  We forth in orderly lines, attentive to what we are about to receive.

As the person ahead of us in line steps away after receiving the Body, we bow.  Why do we bow?  As a sign of reverence to our king, Jesus, present in the consecrated host.  The minister holds up the host in reverence and says “the Body of Christ” to which we say Amen.  Not thank to the minister but Amen!

Amen means ‘yes I believe’.  I believe it really is Jesus.  We hold out our hands, one over the other making a ‘throne’ as St. Cyril described it in the fourth century, for Jesus.  We immediately consume the host.  Then we repeat this with the cup.

We return to our pews quietly praying.  We say thank you to God for giving us his Son in this way.  We say thank you to Jesus.

For those receiving your First Communion today is a very special day for you.  But remember what this day means not just today but every time you receive Communion in the future, remember the precious gift we receive.

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