The perfect and loving gift

Sunday, June 6th 2021   By Rev. Michael P. Hanifin

The month of May saw many children and teenagers receive their First Holy Communion. The young people were all dressed in their white suits and dresses with veils. These white garments call to mind their baptism day, when the priest told their parents and godparents that “the white garment was an outward sign of their Christian dignity. With their family and friends to help them by word and example, they were to bring that Christian dignity unstained into the everlasting life of heaven.” (Rite of Baptism.) The Eucharist is the second of three Sacraments of Initiation into the Catholic Church.

Today the Church celebrate Corpus Christi — the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. We remember that Jesus’ Body and Blood was sacrificed for us on Calvary, but before that excruciating event, He humbly bound Himself to human hands in the Eucharist. As Saint Thomas Aquinas expressed, “In this sacrament sins are purged away, virtues are increased, the soul satiated with an abundance of every spiritual gift. No other sacrament is so beneficial.”

The Gospel this Sunday recounts the Last Supper. As Jesus ate the Passover meal with His apostles, He broke bread, telling them, “This is my Body,” and again, poured wine, saying, “This is my Blood… which will be shed for many.” In this moment, Jesus sacrificially gave us Himself in the Eucharist by foreshadowing His passion, death and resurrection.

Out of total love, Jesus held nothing back from us. He gave us His entire self for our sins and the sins of all humanity through the ages.

We must ask ourselves; do we understand Who we consume at every Mass? It is our Precious Redeemer. Since the Eucharist we receive is Jesus our Lord, ought we want to receive each week as we attend Sunday Mas? Receiving the body, blood, soul and divinity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus is so important to our eternal life. As Jesus said, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world” (John 6:51).

Our lives can be so busy, and our minds so filled with the countless distractions and demands we must attend to each day, that we often forget to acknowledge our Savior at Mass; or to spend time with Him throughout our week; or to accept all the graces He wishes to bestow on us as we receive Him. So let us stop and recognize the Real Presence of our Savior.

Jesus gave us the perfect and loving Gift of Himself so that we might be nourished, strengthened and more fully united to Him as we journey to eternal life. Let us strive to intentionally honor and reverence Him at every Mass; strive to fully partake in each Eucharistic meal; and let us find time to visit our Savior in the Tabernacle.

As our parish’s First Communicants were so excited and enthused to receive Jesus in the Eucharist, I pray that each of us may rediscover the enthusiasm we had at our own First Holy Communion and rediscover the spiritual hunger and thirst for Jesus that was so prevalent and treasured when we received Jesus for the very first time.