5th Sunday of Easter, Year C – Homily

5th Sunday of Easter, Year C
Acts 14:21-27
Psalm 145:8-9, 10-11, 12-13
Revelation 21:1-5a
John 13:31-33a, 34-35
May 15, 2022

Paul and Barnabas continued to proclaim “the good news.”  Through their ministry and God’s grace, “a considerable number of disciples” were made.

God gives us grace as his disciples.  The Sacraments are a vital part of this.  It begins in Baptism but there is more. 

We hear the disciples today say, “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” 

God knows this.  So do Paul and the others.  That’s why they “exhorted them to persevere in the faith.

God loves us.  God strengthens us in faith.  He gives us the Eucharist, the very Body and Blood of Jesus as a free gift of his grace.

This weekend we have four children making their First Communion.  It is something new for them.  They have put effort to prepare for. 

In receiving the Eucharist, Jesus, Son of God, consubstantial with the Father, dwells in us.  In the Eucharist, God makes “all things new.

We have a total of seven sacraments. We call three of them Sacraments of Initiation.  Of course, this begins with Baptism.  Then comes Confirmation, followed by the Eucharist.

In Baptism we are initiated as children of God.  Confirmation is our affirmation of what began in Baptism as we mature in faith.  Thus, both are Sacraments of Initiation.

What about the Eucharist?  We receive it over and over.  How is it a Sacrament of Initiation?  Each time we come to the Eucharist, God strengthens us anew.

I already spoke of the work the children have put into preparing for their First Communion.  They have been learning what it means to celebrate and receive the Eucharist.

It is a good time for us to think about the Eucharist.

To start with, have you thought about how many times you have received the Eucharist?  Most receive their First Communion at age seven.  How many years have you been coming and receiving?

What is it we receive?  It is not simply bread and wine. We don’t know how but God transubstantiates the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus; his Body which is given us for us on the Cross; his Blood which is shed for us.

It is a priceless gift, a gift that we do not earn.  It is a gift God gives to us because He loves us.

As our children prepared for their First Communion, part one was preparing for and receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation so that God could cleanse them of their sins.  Do you open yourself to receive God’s forgiveness, confessing your sins, so that you can be reconciled to him?

As we come to the time to actually receive Communion at Mass, we come forth in procession.  As you come forth, it can be a moment for us to reflect on what it is what are about to receive. 

At that point in Mass, we have heard God’s Word proclaimed in the readings and broke open in the homily.  We have professed our faith in the Creed (Do you ever reflect on the words we say in the Creed? On my website there is a five-part series of presentations, We Profess, We Believe on the Creed.).  We have prayed for the needs of God’s people in the Prayers of the Faithful.  The priest has led us in the Eucharistic Prayer. We have prayed the Our Father and offered the Sign of Peace.

Then comes Communion. 

We come forward to receive Jesus.  How awesome!  With our human eyes, we see a little piece of bread but in faith, we know it to be so much more.

How do you receive?  Both receiving on the hand and on the tongue have long traditions in the church.  In the early church Communion was received on the hand as evidenced by St. Cyril of Jerusalem’s instruction to receive by placing one hand over the other to make a throne to receive Jesus.  Then, the tradition of receiving on the tongue developed.  Then, in the 20th century came much study on the early church and receiving on the hand once again became the common practice.

The word “Eucharist” means thanksgiving.  We thank God for this priceless gift.

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