On this 5th Sunday of Easter, our First Communion candidates are receiving our Eucharistic Lord for the first time.
The children will receive Our Lord, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, not some symbol, but truly Him; we call it the Real Presence, the Risen Lord Jesus! The more I celebrate this wonderful moment in our young people’s lives, the more I am reminded that the Gospel calls us to become as a child, in the words of Jesus, and find the Kingdom of God anew.
I always ask our young people preparing to receive Our Lord why they want to make their First Communion. Some of them responded: “I want to receive Jesus because I am receiving Him who died on the cross to save me..” Another young person wrote: “I get to receive Jesus. It reminds me of the Last Supper.” And still another young person wrote: “I want to be closer to God and become closer to the Body of Christ..” Not bad little theologians aren’t they?
The theme I see running through their letters is “encounter.” The young people are excited to have this special encounter with Christ. Jesus invites us into intimate friendship with Him. He wants to feed us, strengthen us and empower us to be His disciples.
The Resurrection account of the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35), two of the disciples who are walking away from Jerusalem, find themselves waking and speaking to the Risen Lord. Although at first, they do not recognize Him, their eyes are opened when Jesus sits down at table with them and breaks the bread. This Easter encounter with the Risen Lord in a very real sense, reminds us that we are all walking on that Road. There are so many things which impede our spiritual vision, making it hard to recognize that we are not alone. In the light of this encounter with the Risen Lord, we are encouraged to reflect on the gift of the Eucharist. What prevents us from recognizing Him? The disciples were overwhelmed by grief and disappointment. Their hopes seemed dashed. And yet, here He was, in their midst speaking to them, as one of the disciples says “Did our hearts not burn within us as He spoke to us?” Like these two disciples, there is at times a spiritual veil which prevents us from recognizing His presence.
On this 5th Sunday of Easter, the Jesus speaks of Himself as the vine and we, the branches. This is a reminder to all of us to remain close to our Eucharistic Lord. If we cut ourselves off, we will eventually die spiritually.
in the Old Testament the people of Israel are compared to a vine, which is supposed to bear abundant fruit. This image of the vine is particularly effective because the branches cannot live without their attachment to the vine. Neither can they be fruitful without the goodness provided by the vine. To live with Christ is to bear fruit.
So these two Gospels are so powerful in speaking to us of remaining attached to our Lord through the Eucharist. If we remain close to Him, attached to Him in the Eucharist, in prayer, self-giving, service and being His witnesses we will never be separated form Him.
I pray that all of us, our First Communicants and we too will draw strength from Jesus so that we can bear fruit in faith and good works and remain close to Our Eucharistic Lord.
God bless, Fr. Dennis