May 14, 2017 - Fifth Sunday of Easter: Pastor’s Corner
This weekend, when we celebrate Mother’s Day, we call to mind the prophet Isaiah who speaks of God’s love for us using maternal language: As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you (Is. 66:13). The instinctual and potent bond that forms between mother and child shapes our understanding of God’s unconditional care for us, especially in times of need. Just as our mother gives us life, so too, it is God’s love that creates and sustains us.
Further, on this Mother’s Day weekend, we recall that even God has a mother. In asking some of our elementary school children why we honor Mary, they responded: “she is the Mother of God,” “she never sinned”, and “she made peanut butter and jelly for Jesus!” In summing up our reverence for Mary, one child said “we honor Mary, because without Mary, there would be no Jesus.” Well put. Mary’s fiat, her “yes” to God sparked the light of Christ to life as He came to be in her womb. Mary’s “yes” is an example for us, for whenever we hear and respond to God’s word in our life, Christ comes alive in us. Perhaps the most powerful experience of this happens whenever we receive Holy Communion. When we respond “Amen,” to the minister’s invitation “The body/blood of Christ,” we echo Mary’s commitment and, if our hearts and minds are truly open, we receive the very life of God in hearts. Thus, it is Mary who teaches us how to receive God fruitfully in our hearts.
Reflecting on the power of the Eucharist helps us to understand this weekend’s Gospel. In the Gospel, Jesus promises his power to those who believe in him: Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father. (John 14:10-12) Considering Jesus’ miracles and the wonders he accomplished, to promise that his believers would do even “greater works” is astonishing. In fact, this can only be possible if we are still connected to the source of Christ’s power through the Body of the Church. This is why Jesus gave us the sacraments. In the sacraments, Jesus is made present to us in various ways at crucial moments in our life. This weekend we celebrate both Confirmation and First Holy Communion.
On Saturday evening, we welcome the Archbishop who will confirm 20 young men and women. At the words, “Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit,” the seven-fold gifts of the Jesus’ Spirit will fill the minds and hearts of our young people and empower them to do “greater works” than Christ.
On Sunday at the 9:30 a.m. Family Mass and the 1:30 p.m. St. Jude Pilgrim Mass, we are blessed to have nearly 70 children receive Jesus for the very first time. The Eucharist is a concrete sign of God love for us and in the Eucharist; Christ becomes small so that we can become strong. Just as the most powerful moment of creation occurred in the womb of Mary in the moment of the Incarnation, so too, for us the most powerful moment of our day happens when we receive the author of life and love in our hands and, in consuming Him, are transformed.
It is a moment to rejoice in the joy of the occasion, but a moment to once again treasure the gift we are given. Especially for us who are in the habit of receiving communion week after week, we have to guard against complacency and indifference. A very simple prayer that I often call to mind right before I celebration Mass is “Lord, help me to celebrate this Mass, as if it is my first Mass, my last Mass, and my only Mass.” Today as you come up for communion, put away any distractions and once again focus on who you are about to receive by saying: “Dear Lord, help me to receive you as if it is my first time, my last time and my only time.” And then, joining our First Communicants, welcome the God of Love into your heart again for the first time.
- Fr. Michael Hurley, O.P., Pastor