“The Eucharist is simple food, like bread, yet it is the only food that satisfies, for there is no greater love. There we encounter Jesus really; we share his life and we feel his love.”
About a month ago, my son Peter made his First Holy Communion. It was a beautiful Mass, but there was a lot going on. Over and above the normal commotion of so many second graders gathered in one place, it was Mother’s Day and the church was gratefully full of parishioners and visiting families. It was unseasonably windy and cold, an altar boy threw up, and at some point one of the first communicant’s father passed out. Thankfully the gentleman was fine, but it was a little unnerving, especially for his sweet little daughter who was sitting in the pew in front of him just crying in her white dress. As some family and ushers helped the man outside to get some fresh air and people prayed for him, I watched my pastor go over to the little girl, bend down and gently hold her face with both hands as he spoke some comforting words to her. A bright smile emerged despite the red eyes and she stood up proudly, ready to receive Jesus for the first time.
That image has stayed with me for weeks. Beyond the obvious sweetness, there was something else that struck me. As we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ and the US Catholic Church begins a multi-year Eucharistic revival, the image of my pastor coming down and holding that child’s face was a reminder of the great gift we receive in the Eucharist. In the same way father met that second grader in her fear and sadness, the Father gathers us, whoever we are, however we are. In the same way father lifted her eyes to his, the Father sees us completely, lifts our heads out of shame, fear, anxiety, grief. And just as father spoke the words she needed to hear in that moment, the Father heals us as we need to be healed and as only He can heal us when we receive Holy Communion. How often do I ponder that gift? How often do I approach Holy Communion that way? On this Father’s Day, how can I give thanks for The Father who is so generous? As we celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi, may our lives be a daily procession celebrating the Lord’s real presence.