Sunday Within the Christmas Octave—30 December A.D. 2012
I am very pleased to announce that Christian and Michael Bulina will receive our Lord in First Holy Communion this morning. Congratulations to them and to their families and friends. Ecclesiastical custom dictates that all of you wait, so that the First Communicants can receive immediately after those who serve at the altar.
We tend to think of First Communion as something that takes place in the spring—perhaps at the end of Lent—Holy Thursday or Easter Sunday, perhaps. But just this past week, on Christmas day we heard the beginning of Saint John’s Gospel, and today we heard a bit from Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians, which, together, tell us something about the meaning of Holy Communion.
I would like to stress for Christian and Michael (as for all of us) the importance of listening to the Sacred Scriptures (the Epistle and Gospel) each time you attend Holy Mass. Listen to them, understand them, and try to determine how they can improve your spiritual life.
The Christmas Gospel spoke of Christ (called the Word) being with the Father, jointly creating all that has been made. “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shined in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” Jesus Christ is the light of men! But not everybody pays attention, and discovers the treasure that He is. “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.”
But some—like Christian and Michael—are fortunate. They have been brought by their loving mother to the belief in Jesus Christ (their loving mother Maria Elena, and their Holy Mother the Catholic Church).
And that Gospel tells us that “as many as received him, he gave them power to be made the sons of God.” Now, you know that I am not a “politically correct” person, but I nearly always feel that it is important to stress we are talking about sons and daughters of God—not just boy children. And then the Gospel tells us what we must do to become sons and daughters of God: that we must believe in his name., that we be “born, not of blood”—in other words that we must not be violent, “nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man,” but, rather that we must make the will “of God.” our own will.
And then the Gospel tells us a remarkable thing: That for the redemption of those who believe, for those who make God’s will their own, “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” That is to say that the Son of God, who existed before all ages, actually took human form and walked among His people. And, it is precisely this God who became man Whom we receive in Holy Communion—and not just the human component, but His entire humanity and divinity. We can think of First Holy Communion as a Christmas thing, for it was on Christmas that this humanity and divinity were first made known to the world.
Saint Paul reminds us of the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary as God’s human mother—He was “made of a woman”—conceived by the Holy Ghost, but taking His physical substance from His Blessed Mother. And, again, Saint Paul reiterates that we are His adopted brothers and sisters—joint heirs with Christ in the kingdom of God.
In Baptism, Christian and Michael (and all of us) were received into the family of God. In Holy Communion we actually receive the humanity and divinity of God into our own bodies and souls. We are like family, rather than like hired help. You may have noticed that your mother is always pleased when you do some little something for her—that is because you are family. She has no particular love and receives none of that pleasure from someone she might pay to do the same thing—the hired hand just get his pay—the family gets love. It is much the same with God our Father, and Mary our Blessed Mother, and their Son Jesus, our adoptive brother. Be prepared to please them every time you keep the Commandments, every time you do good and avoid evil, every time you pray, and particularly every time you receive Holy Communion.
And do make those occasions frequent. Every Sunday—more often if possible. Make a frequent Confession of your sins, and remain in the state of grace, so that all of the good you do is rewarded with the love of God.
Merry Christmas, blessed First Holy Communion—may God and His Blessed Mother love you!