May 9, 2021 / 9 de mayo 2021

May 1, 2021 (First Holy Communion)

Our parents tell us things to do all the time that we dont understand, and when we hear those things, we often complain or grumble about it. We talk back. Why do I have to do that? Can you think of some things like that? Clean your room, brush your teeth, wash your face, or wash your hands. We dont want to do those things because we dont see the reasonin it; we dont see the good in it; therefore we dont believe that it is good for us. We often think it is against us. Even if our parents give us an explanation - tell us the reason, that usually is not enough to convince us. Your teeth will decay and fall out if you dont brush them. You can get sick and get others sick if you dont wash your hands.How do we come to a certainty that what our parents tell us is true even if we dont understand? Why should we follow even if we dont understand? Because we arrive at a certainty through a journey with another person - by sharing life with another person. We believe the other person because the more time we spend with another person, the more signs we see of the persons love for us. That takes time. We dont get it all at the beginning. Think of this example. How do you know for certain that your mom loves you? Why do you answer yeswhen asked does your mom love you?You know it because over time youve seen many signs of her love for you - in the way she cares for you in a way that is different than other people.

     Unless we take the risk to go on the journey, we dont find certainty, or that taste of certainty that we find at the beginning, blows up as soon as we hit the first obstacle. We need to stay with the other on the journey for the certainty to penetrate us and to take hold in us.

     What we hear Jesus tell the crowd in the Gospel today they didnt understand. The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.In fact, what he said not only seemed impossible, but also seemed disgusting. The thought of it made them think, no way do I want to do that.They didnt know how what he said could be possible. So they argue. How can this man give us his flesh to eat?Jesus continues with very graphic language: My flesh is true food and my Blood is true drink. Unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.Jesus promises life - an eternal life - to those who feed on him. Eternal does not refer to length of time but a quality of life - his life - a share in the life of God. This is a new life. After Jesus says this, many of the disciples left Jesus - stopped following him. They said what he is saying is too hard.(How often do we say, thats too hardas an excuse not to do what we are asked to do). But 12 disciples remained. Why? Why did Peter, James, John, and the others remain? They had been following Jesus for about 3 years at that point, sharing life with him - traveling together, eating together, fishing together, and they saw him do many things - heal the sick, calm the storms at sea, multiply the loaves and the fish, look at them with great tenderness and love - they saw so many signs that revealed how much he loved them that they had to believe that what he said was true even if they didnt understand. To leave Jesus, to stop following him simply because they didnt understand would be to go against all the evidence of their experience. (The ones who left had just seen the multiplication of the loaves and wanted more bread. They hadnt taken the time to know Jesus). To stop following would be unreasonable based on what they saw even if they couldnt make sense of what he was saying now. They stay with Jesus because they have an affection for Jesus - their hearts are warmed in his presence - and they want to see how what he says will happen. They stay because they have faith in Jesus - they know he loves them, and this certainty gives them a certain hope that what he says will be fulfilled.

     The question of how can this man give us his flesh to eat?is answered in what Jesus does at the Last Supper when he institutes the Sacrament of the Eucharist. St. Paul relates what happened at the Last Supper in his letter to the Corinthians. On the night he was handed over, the Lord Jesus took bread and after he had given thanks, broke it and said, This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me. In the same way also the cup, This cup is the new covenant in my blood.

     In the reading from the Acts of the Apostles that recounts the life in the early church - how the disciples were living right after the Resurrection of Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost - we see the new life that Jesus promised. They are sharing the life of Jesus and people can see it. Awe came upon everyone, and many wonders and signs were done through the Apostles.They lived in unity and charity - sharing with each other, taking care of the needy, and doing it with joy. They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart.They enjoyed being with each other; they were honest with each other; other people admired them. And it was through the attractive, different way they were living that others wanted be with them. They lived in a more human, more fulfilling way. Because of this newness and difference with which they lived - a sign that revealed Gods love - the community grew.

     The disciples only discovered the truth of what Jesus said and experienced this new life because they stayed with him through the cross. They didnt leave simply because they didnt understand. Remaining with Jesus happens by eating his flesh and drinking his blood through Holy Communion in the Mass. The Christian community is described as being devoted, i.e., faithful to the teaching of the Apostles, the communal life - sharing life together, and to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers.” “The breaking of the breadis what the early Christians called the Mass - the sacrament of the Eucharist. Without remaining with Jesus and Jesus remaining in us, we lose the certainty that brings joy to life. 

     We dont see Jesus in the Eucharist the same way the disciples didnt seeGod in Jesus (he looked like any other man), but because of the time spend with him, sharing life with him, they reached a certainty that he was God and they didnt want to leave him. This certainty came also through the fact that their lives were changed - that they were given a fuller life through their communion of life with him.

     Jesus invites the young people today who are receiving him for the first time in Holy Communion to remain with him as he remains with us. He is inviting all of us to come on a journey with him - to come with open eyes and open hearts to see how he will bring our lives to fulfillment in this impossible, unexpected way. Those who live Eucharistic lives devoted to the Mass and prayer and the teaching of the Church are witnesses to us just like the Christians of the early church that Jesus is alive and is sharing his life with us today. The people in this community of St. Charles are witnesses of Christ - those who share their lives with us, treat us with mercy and love and care for us in our need. I cant explain it or do an experiment to prove it, but I want to stay on this path with Jesus because it is here where I found new life. I hope you will walk with me, because without friends on the journey who care for us and for whom we care, we stop seeing the signs of Christs love for us.

Contact Info

St. Charles Borromeo Parish
Parroquia San Carlos Borromeo

1731 Hulmeville Road
Bensalem, PA 19020

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