If you look at the Gospels,
Jesus spent a lot of time eating with people and feeding them.
Did you ever wonder why that is?
To invite someone to a meal, and to accept that invitation,
are powerful signs of welcome and friendship.
To prepare a meal for another person is an act of love.
So the reason there’s so much eating in the Gospels?
Because Jesus wants us to know: he likes being with us!
He wants to feed us! He loves us.
So notice what Jesus put at the center of the life of the Church:
The Holy Mass, where he gives us,
not just ordinary food, but his own, precious, Body and Blood!
The best of food! The best of meals!
When we have family members and friends
who belong to other Christian denominations,
who have beliefs and practices that are similar in some ways,
it’s easy to overlook some really important aspects.
For most other Christians, Holy Communion
is only a sign that points to Jesus’ presence.
They believe that the bread and wine never change into anything;
they remain bread and wine.
And, to be very blunt, many Catholics erroneously believe this too.
Sometimes people say, well, it looks like bread, it tastes like wine,
So that’s all it is, and I don’t believe all this stuff about a miracle.
But then, there were people who met Jesus, and said,
He looks like he’s only a human being,
So I don’t believe he’s also the Lord our God!
People don’t ever say these things to me, but if they did,
here’s what I would want to say back to them:
Do you believe that you need to be saved?
Do you need God to rescue you from what sin does?
To forgive your sins and change you,
to keep you from hell and bring you to heaven?
Some people, if they were very candid, would admit:
No, I don’t need God to do those things. I’m doing just fine.
And if that’s what you believe, then Jesus makes no sense.
Baptism, confession, all the sacraments make no sense.
Above all, the Mass and the Eucharist just aren’t very important.
So bread, wine, body, blood, whatever? Who cares?
On the other hand, if you look in your heart, and see:
I’m not just fine on my own. I do wrong things,
And if it weren’t for God helping me, I’d end up in a terrible place!
Then it makes all the difference whether Jesus gives you a cracker,
or he gives you his own Body, his own Blood!
His own divinity and soul and self!
If you believe this, if you believe Jesus meant it when he said,
“This is my Body…this is my Blood,”
and if you believe Jesus makes that happen at Holy Mass –
and I do believe this, and this precisely what we believe as Catholics –
then isn’t it obvious why we come Sunday after Sunday?
I have a pill I take every day; it’s supposed to keep my arteries clear
and help me avoid having a heart attack. So I take my pill.
Jesus says, “Eat my flesh and drink my blood.” That’s what he said,
over and over in the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John.
“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood,” Jesus said,
“has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.”
So why wouldn’t all Catholics want to have this Food, this Life,
as often as they could?
Today, we have our second graders making their first communion.
I’ve watched you grow up from babies, and so many of you,
when you walk up front with your parents,
I can see how much you have been looking forward to this day.
So have your parents, and so have I!
But I want to repeat what I said to you on “Jesus Day”:
It isn’t your first communion that matters the most,
but our last communion, and all that come between.
That repetition is critical. Parents, you know this is true!
You remind your kids over and over to say “please” and “thank you.”
It drives you crazy, but you know that if you don’t,
the habit will never take root.
Sad to say, this happens with the Eucharist.
Lots of people make a first communion, but they drift away,
they forget about Jesus, and maybe they never come back!
So, you keep coming. Stay close to Jesus through prayer
and especially in the sacrament of confession.
And keep coming to Mass and keep receiving Jesus’ Body and Blood.
He so wants to feed us. It’s the most important thing to him.
In which case, let’s pray for each other:
parents, pray for your children; kids, pray for your parents,
that what is the most important thing to Jesus,
will be the most important thing to you, to me, to every one of us.