Today, 10 children accompanied by family and friends will receive the Eucharist for the first time. Coming to Mass they will first listen to God’s Word, seeking to live a life in line with the scriptures, renew their baptismal promises along with all those who are baptized, listen to the Eucharistic Prayer where we call upon God to transform the gifts of bread and wine into the very life of Christ. Together we will sing and pray and prepare for that moment, when they will come forward to the altar table for communion. After two years of preparations, study, learning their prayers, confident they are fully prepared and ready, we invite them to come forward. When they come forward they will say, “Amen” after the minister says “The Body of Christ” and “the Blood of Christ.” Saying, “Amen,” means the same thing as saying “Yes” or “I believe.” For they believe that like all of us God loves them so much, Christ wants to share his very life with them the way Christ shared his life with his disciples over 2,000 years ago. At the last supper Jesus gave his disciples this gift, handed on to them the responsibility of being his followers, his disciples, people who are fed and then sent forth to serve others, feed others, bring solace and consolation to others.
These children are so excited to finally be completely one with the faith community, not just to be present on Sunday coming forward and receive an acknowledgement that they are hungry for the Lord, but to now come to this table be fed as they receive the Body and Blood of Christ.
We’ll know they are first communicants by the girl’s pretty dresses, their Sunday best attire, slacks and possibly sport coats for the boys, white shirts and ties. Getting dressed up adds to the anticipation, the excitement they will experience this day, along with the many pictures taken, feasts and receptions that follow at home or at a restaurant. Parents make a big deal out of this day and rightly so, but then what? What happens Sunday after Sunday after this special day?
When we prepare for the Eucharist it is not to receive something, but to receive someone, the person of Christ, the very life of the Lord. Every Sunday we have the opportunity to commune with the Lord and one another, hopefully being with each other in the same way those who have fallen in love with each other simply want to be in the other person’s presence, filled with joy, experiencing a sense of peace, feeling blessed that each one is loved. We celebrate the Eucharist each Sunday because Jesus said, “Do this in memory of me.” And we celebrate the Eucharist because ‘the body of Christ,” says Nathan Mitchell, “is not only on the table, but at the table and around the table.”
How do we, the adults, give good example to these first communicants that coming to Eucharist on Sunday is one of the most important relationships we and they can participate in every week? I leave that question for you to ponder, pray over and reflect upon.