Saturday, April 27, 2024

'The most important Holy Communion...'

Today*, and for the next four Sundays, till May 12,  

our family of parishes is doing something that may seem just for a few, 

but is actually important to all of us as a spiritual family. 

You and I are welcoming many of our children; to begin sharing in the Most Holy Eucharist. 

Let’s be clear why this is so important – starting with the not-so-important aspects. 

It’s nice that it’s a pretty day and we get to wear special clothes; 

we have parents and grandparents here, and there probably will be a party and presents. 

But we all know these are not the main thing. 

We can celebrate a birthday in the same way, but this is so much more important than a birthday. 

Why? Because Jesus came into the world to give himself to you. To me. 

He did so, first in baptism. He does so in each of the sacraments. 

But notice: marriage usually happens once. Confirmation certainly happens only one time. 

I’ve been ordained a deacon, and a priest, but I probably won’t be a bishop (and I don’t want to be)! 

We can and should come frequently to confession. 

We can receive the anointing many times, but that’s a bittersweet thought, isn’t it?

The Eucharist is meant for us to receive most often; even daily.

Boys and girls, I know you’ve been practicing for this.

I want to invite everyone to focus, not on the peripherals,

But on how reverent and focused our first communicants are.

This is an opportunity to contemplate how each of us receive Jesus.

Do you or I accept the Eucharist as the greatest gift of all,

Or more like how we might accept a can of pop or a napkin?

This is a valuable, delicate glass bowl.

If this were worth, say, $1,000, and I placed it in your hands,

How would you respond? You get the point.

What you’re being given – in your hands or on your tongue – 

is not worth $1000, but a gift of infinite value.

So, one reason First Communion Masses are so important 

is that every year, you and I have a chance to reflect 

on whether we have become too casual. I include myself in this.

Here’s another thing to notice in our first communicants.

Children, I know you and your parents and teachers 

have worked with you to understand what you can about the Eucharist.

You know that what is ordinary bread and wine, 

before it comes to the altar, truly becomes Jesus: 

his true Body and Blood.

It is Jesus himself who does this, through the priest, at the altar.

I would not be surprised to learn you can even explain this pretty well.

And the day will come, as it does for each of us, 

to be ready to tell others, in our words, what we believe and why.

This is valuable, but not the key thing.

What matters more is not how we explain, but how we show our faith.

The faith in your heart shines in your eyes and your actions.

The rest of us, witnessing that, are challenged to imitate your example.

I am challenged to recall 

the first time I offered Holy Mass, on May 25, 2003. 

There have been many thousands of Masses since.

If you are nervous or overwhelmed today, so was I that day!

But you remind me, today, that I need to return, in a sense, 

to that mindset of awe and wonder that can sometimes be lost.

Every one of us needs that.

Let me add this. As important as our first communion is, 

it is not our most important communion.

May I suggest that our most important communion is our FINAL one.

Many times I have brought the Holy Eucharist 

to someone at the hospital or at home, and as I did so, 

I saw that weary child of God close his or her eyes for the last time.

It is because that person wanted Jesus so much, 

That I can say with confidence

That the next time they saw was Jesus – in heaven!

You and I can never know when that last communion will happen.

So, we keep coming, week after week.

He will strengthen that hunger and that love!

One day it will be you, full of years, closing your eyes to this world, 

and receiving the fullest communion with Jesus forever!

This is just the first step. Thank you for letting us share your journey.

* I.e., last Saturday, April 20.


Patrick said...

Very powerful first communion homily. Your parish should be grateful! And it will remain in my thoughts and prayers going forward.

The only other one that I remember was from an ancient, quiet priest who specifically addressed all of the extended family members that weren't active Catholics (or Catholic at all) explaining the virtue of faith and that it was theological and encouraged all who didn't believe in the real presence to ask God for the faith to see Him.

Anonymous said...

Dear Father,
Hello, it’s me Luke. I have a final question before summer: I was wondering if you could say a prayer/blessing virtually (typed) for my favorite action figure to be mine in the resurrection and in heaven. I like my action figure a lot and I really hope it’s with me in the afterlife.

Fr Martin Fox said...


I cannot offer any insight about action figures, but God wants you to have perfect happiness in eternity, and if you invite God's grace to help you, you will have that happiness.