Over lunch, a brother deacon recounted the story of his nephew’s First Holy Communion.
He noted that after a period of great anticipation, the day had finally arrived. With family having traveled from near and far, all had made their way to the local parish church that, through the years, had witnessed many sacramental moments. Prior to Mass, the pastor informed them that this First Communion would be different with respect to order. That is, rather than calling this anxious eight-year old forward so that he might be the first to receive Our Lord, he decided that this first communicant would receive—last.
After Holy Communion had been distributed and the last parishioner had received, the priest called the child forward. This call resulted in a clarifying moment. As the boy walked toward the altar, a silence enveloped the parishioners. With every eye now focused upon the priest and first communicant, a great scene unfolded.
With the priest holding the Host for all to see, he asked this question of the child:
Who is this?
And immediately, his loud response echoed through the pews:
From my perspective, I have always felt that the faith of children is inspiring. For more often than not, they cut directly to the point, say what they mean, and express the truth of a situation more than we sophisticated adults.
For clarification, let us turn to Matthew’s Gospel (18:1-5):
At the time the disciples approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.”
Years ago, I had the privilege of serving Mass for a high-ranking bishop. Immediately following the consecration, I listened as he quietly recited the Jesus Prayer: Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Needless to say, I was moved by his words of faith and utter dependence—upon the Lord. With the Savior now present in the Eucharistic Bread and Wine, what better words exist to describe one’s faith that the Lord is truly present and that we are lacking and in need of Him?
In reflecting upon this, I have concluded that we adults find it difficult to accept the miracles present in our lives. Over the years, I cannot count the number of people that I’ve encountered who’ve told me that “…if I were able to show them a miracle, they would most certainly believe.” Always, my initial response is that they should look into the eyes of their spouse, children, and closest friends. Just who has brought this about? And if even that does not convince them, I invite them to come and attend Mass. After all, what on earth is more miraculous than the Eucharist, where Jesus makes Himself fully and truly present in the Eucharistic elements so that He might give Himself to us?
But their response is: I can’t see Him.
And mine: Really?