April 29, 2018: Fifth Sunday of Easter - Associate Pastor’s Corner
When I was in the third grade, I received my first communion at Our Lady of Ransom School in Philadelphia. The girls were dressed in white dresses and veils, I was in a dark blue suit with a white tie. Sister Agnes Marie instructed us how slowly to march down the aisle on the Mass of First Communion, in-step if possible, with our hand clasped, thumbs crossed, with our fingers towards the sky because our guardian angel would sit atop our middle fingers as we prayed. I remember singing a song with my classmates near the end of Mass, the pictures, and the small reception in the parish hall (cupcakes!).
Today, we are having younger members of the Body of Christ receive Jesus sacramentally for the first time—First Communion Sunday!
Thinking of the first time I received the Body and Blood of Jesus, and reflecting on the past few Sundays, it seems to me that the Lord is asking me, and perhaps you, to contemplate on what it means to be part of something greater than me. I am the vine, you are the branches, and I am the Good Shepherd, you are the sheep, and Receive my Body, receive my Blood. All pointing to our dependence on God. But importantly, too, on the fact that we are part of something great, bolder, and more wonderful than our dreams and imaginings.
We are the branches. We reach out from the vine, to give others shade, to give others comfort, but the only reason we can do that is because we belong to the Vine. Yet, and this is the beautiful part, every single one of us are reaching out to others, to dispense the Lord’s comfort and shade, especially to those who are scorched by dry, bitter, earth. Each of us are called, each in his or her own way, to reach out from the vine to bring that comfort and solace through the gifts, talents, charisms, and strengths that are ultimately rooted in the Vine.
So how do we reach out? Filled with the Blood and Body of Jesus, how to we offer that consolation? I will offer three ways.
First, the life of prayer. When we are at Mass or saying a rosary, we are oftentimes distracted by many things in our life. Bring these distractions to prayer. Distractions are sometimes the ping-pangs of the Holy Spirit, inviting you to pray for things, situations, and people that we would not normally pray for. Bring these to prayer and pray for the Lord’s consolation.
Secondly, the Sacraments. You cannot be the Body and Blood of Christ if you are not filled with the Body and Blood of Christ. You cannot be forgiveness and consolation if you have not been forgiving yourself. It’s simply reasonable to connect with, and be filled with, the Vine, Jesus. This is what Mass and Confession is—they are an opportunity to encounter Jesus through the Body of Christ. By being filled by an encounter with Christ, can we encounter others with a Christly gift.
Thirdly, works of mercy. We can offer shade and consolation directly to others, Christians and nonChristians, by our witness of a good, virtuous life, filled with good works. Our testimony of Jesus’ goodness in our lives does not have to be through a pulpit or putting on a religious veil. Consolation of the Spirit can be given by any baptized person by feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, comforting the sorrowful, and the other spiritual and corporal acts of mercy. What is stopping any of us from being magnanimous towards strangers and friends?
I want to end these reflections with a prayer request and an encouragement of giving a financial gift. I have been part of the St Francis Xavier Lay Missionary Society for the past five years. Later this week, I and lead missionary Tricia Bølle launch into Hong Kong, Calcutta, and Goa (we return the day before Pentecost). Details of our Mission Trip is inside the bulletin, under “Send Fr. Isaiah to Asia!” The entire project costs around $8,000, and of this writing, we are still a few shekels short. Will you be part of this mission? If “YES”, I invite you to open the bulletin and see ways you can help me in this Mission Trip.
Lastly, I invite you to pray for our young people who will receive their first communion this weekend. Pray that, filled with the Eucharist, they may become the saints they are called to be!
- Fr. Isaiah Mary Molano, O.P.