Here you now are on your First Holy Communion day.
You are as shiny as a new pin. You have been washed, polished and cleaned to an inch of your life. You are wearing the best of clothes that money could buy because you want to look your best for the Lord who comes to you on your First Holy Communion. You have learned all the prayers of Mass and practiced the hymns, so that you might pray to the best of your ability and sing your hearts out in praise to Jesus who comes to you in Holy Communion. A million eyes are on you, well maybe hundreds, not wishing you harm but wishing you well – your mothers and fathers your relatives and friends, your teachers. Your eyes are focused on the Mass and priest at Mass, your eyes and your attention is not a million mils away, but here with us now at the Mass and the desire to offer this Mass up with all that is within you.
Today we see in you children that that you have good and pure hearts. How we would wish that for ourselves! We see in you something which Jesus delighted in spotting in children just like you: joy and happiness, love and simplicity, genuine and sincerity and complete openness to God. Which made him wish that all his disciples and all his friends and all who surrounded him could have these qualities too. He is careful to say that he would not like the children to be like them but that they would be like the children.
Today the Lord wants to give you a gift, the gift of himself through Holy Communion. The gift of his friendship and love. The promise that he will be with you always. A promise that you will not have to climb mountains to find him, not have to travel over land to seek him, not have to dive deep into the sea to look for him. He will be here in the Mass and Holy Communion. He promised this in the last supper, every time you do this you will be doing this in memory of me, every time you do this you will be uniting yourself to me. Every time we come to Mass you will find friendship with him, he calls you not servants but friends. He tells you that you are close to him as branches are to a tree as leaves are to a branch. United closely, firmly truly, bound together as friends forever. True friendship, true closeness, true love. All of this he offers to you in Holy Communion.
You don’t have to search him out. You don’t have to wonder where he is. You don’t have to ask anyone where will you will find him. He has chosen to be near to you and close to you in Holy Communion. When you are sad he will be here. When you are troubled he will be here. Wen you are uncertain he will be here. When you are afraid he will be here. Wen you need comfort he will be here. When you are alone he will be here. As the psalm tells us: He opens wide his hand and grants all your desires.
And he promises you something more, something else, that as your receive him you will change. You will be a even more of a good boy or girl. You will grow up to be wise and good. You will be honest and true. You will have good virtues and good qualities. You will make good decisions and good choices. You will avoid hazards and problems should your keep close to him. You will do that because he will always be here in Holy Communion to help and guide you. Everytime your receive Holy Communion your very soul in you will be come purer and holier, shinier, gleaming. Who couldn’t want that, it is a gift that will keep given. That will never be broken or wear it and will never be taken back by him.
What would you want to say to him today on this day of your First Holy Communion – thanks with all your heart for giving you such a gift. For choosing you. Promise him today that you will always try to receive him in Holy Communion as well as you do in this day, with the pure and simple heart of a child. That you will always want to have his friendship and know his love and protection as you do in this day. And promise to love him with all your heart as he loves you with all his heart.
Today your son and daughter receives Holy Communion. I can only guess what is in your heart and minds today. Your hand has guided them along the way. You have helped them to pass through many milestones to reach this day. You have made many choices that have led them to this moment, this day and hour.
You hand to these children, something special to know God in their lives through this sacrament. You give to these children the ability to know God’s friendship, love and protection in their lives. It is a great gift that will sustain them throughout their life in good times and bad. What a gift to be given!
The Church rejoices that these children even at such a young age are able to receive Holy Communion. They are given strong armour in the Eucharist to meet the trials and difficulties of life. Disappointments will glance off them. Temptations will not overcome them. You are sending them out into life with all of the spiritual strength that they need to meet the challenges, strong in faith.
We think we teach the children but in many ways things are flipped n their head, as we see today, they teach us. Just looking at them today, their purity of heart, their eagerness, the strength of their faith teaches us, things we have forgotten, things we should have known. They teach us.
As I often say on these occasions, there are plenty of sad days in life, this is not one of them. This is a day of great joy and happiness. There is no need to be sad afraid on this day. No need to be worried or troubled. No need to be anxious or downcast. This is the day that he has made, a day to rejoice and be glad.