What were they thinking?
This past weekend, our family gathered in Alma for a nephew’s graduation from Alma College. It was a great family gathering.
On Sunday morning I celebrated mass for my family. As I often do with my homilies at family gatherings, I wanted to engage them in some dialogue about the Gospel. The Gospel, as you may recall from last weekend, was St. John’s account of the Lord’s appearance to the disciples in the upper room. The disciples had gathered in a locked upper room because of their fear of the Jews. As such, I wanted to explore with my family what the disciples might have been thinking about that evening and even more so I wanted to explore why they thought the disciples were so fearful that night. The disciples had just witnessed the crucifixion of the Lord and they obviously had much on their minds. So, I posed the question: “What were the disciples thinking about when they gathered in that upper room that evening?” Almost immediately one nephew said, “They were thinking about what their mom was going to make for dinner.” There was a bit of snickering that went through the crowd and I just rolled my eyes. Yes, the disciples (and obviously my family) were probably hungry (and I was starting to think I’d better wrap this homily up rather quickly)! Then I asked my family to think about why the disciples were so fearful. So I asked another question: “So, what were the disciples so afraid of?” The same nephew piped up, “Like I said, what their mom was going to make for dinner!” I could see I wasn’t going to win this one. But I did begin to wonder for a bit about their mom’s cooking!
Congratulations First Communicants:
I wish to offer congratulations to all of our young people celebrating their First Communion this weekend. This annual celebration is always a highlight in the life of a parish. I would like to thank the parents, our Religious Education staff, teachers, catechists and all those who helped prepare these young people for this wonderful day. Your own witness and example inspires these young people and enriches their faith journey more than you will ever know.
Now, more than ever, we need to teach our young people the importance of the Eucharist in their daily lives. We live in such a complex world and we need to help these young people to be people of prayer and people who know they are disciples of Jesus Christ. They need to be a people of the Eucharist! We have come to celebrate with these children and have placed a great amount of emphasis on this great and holy day. Now we have to continue our catechesis and show them by our own word and example the importance of the Eucharist in our everyday lives.
One of the clearest ways to show these young people the importance of the Eucharist is by making the Eucharist and weekend participation at Mass an absolute priority in our own lives, even beyond all the activities that occupy the weekend! I could count more than you’d like to know the number of times students have admitted that being at Church over the weekend simply isn’t a priority for their family.
The second graders making their first communion this weekend have incredible faith; yet their faith is only in its infancy narrative. As much as we have to protect and nurture a young budding plant or flower, we have to nurture and protect the faith life of these precious little ones. We need to do all we can to help them on their journey to the Lord. Let us celebrate with them EVERY weekend around the table of the Lord. Let us show them the importance of Eucharistic Adoration. Let us show them the importance of prayer. Let us show them that God needs to be the center of their lives! Walking together on the road of life we can encounter Jesus in so many different ways. But these young people need our help in pointing out His presence. They also need our help in showing them that Jesus truly is the way, the truth and the life!
On our annual First Communion weekend I like to recall the beautiful story of Jacob Davis, a first grader whose funeral we celebrated in May 2005; Jacob died from leukemia. I will never forget visiting with his parents, Eric and Michelle, and their entire family at Mott Hospital the last few days of Jacob’s life. One of Jacob’s last wishes was to be promoted to the second grade so he could make his first communion. Talk about a powerful dying wish. I think we were all amazed with the request. With a mass kit in hand I went to Mott Children’s Hospital. There in his cramped room I promoted Jacob to the second grade and celebrated mass at his bedside. Jacob got his wish and he made his first communion surrounded by family and friends. It was a beautiful day for Jacob and his family.
I recall the words from Matthew’s Gospel (11:25), “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.” The older we get the more complicated our lives become and the more challenging it is to maintain proper balance and proper priorities in our lives. Jacob had his priorities and he could clearly see and articulate them even in the last days of his earthly life. May you do all you can to be nourished at the table of the Savior! May your own witness of faith encourage these young people who are making their first holy communion this weekend to walk always in the presence of the Lord!
Festival Volunteers Needed:
As I announced at all the masses this weekend, we need your help to make the 48
Annual Spring Festival a great success. Yes, we need you to turn in those raffle tickets but we also need plenty of volunteers to work the entrance gates, to sell 50/50 tickets, to work in food and the many other areas of the festival. Even if you only have an hour to spare during festival weekend, please consider donating some of your time. We need your help! Please visit the festival volunteering page at www.sjascs.org/festivalvolunteering to sign up for a shift or two (or three or four)!
Enjoy the week. Know of my prayers.