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I was recently watching a TV programme about a priest in a Catholic Parish and at one stage in the programme they followed the Parish as it was getting ready for First Communion day.  As the First Communion drew near, the Parish and the local school were making all sorts of preparations about dress code and about who would do what on the big day.  When it actually came to the moment for the children to receive their First Communion, the girls and boys came forward very reverently.  However there was one girl who was the focus of the procession who, when she got to the priest and received Communion, a button was pressed and her dress (adorned with fairy lights) started flashing for all the congregation to see.  I’d heard about such celebrations but have never seen them – for my part, an over-the-top way to make First Communion.  It reminded me about something I have thought for years – Communion is the Big Prize, it is what people – young and old – desire, truly desire.  People like coming to Church, yes, but what they really want is to meet Jesus in a most intimate way by receiving Him in Communion.  People desire Communion for what it does to a person’s inside; it renews and refreshed a person’ heart.  How many times have we come to Church anxious, worried and concerned about recent events in life only to be renewed and refreshed by the meaning and purpose we get for life from Jesus whom we receive in Communion?

 

 

 

Today is the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ and our readings are all focused on the food that we receive in Communion.  Our Gospel today comes from John and we know that the big theme running through that Gospel is that Jesus Christ came on earth as the ‘Word Made Flesh’.  In all the words that Jesus said and preached and in all his actions, people were able to say “this is God among us, God walking on earth and sharing our lives.”  Tied in with Jesus’ promise at the end of the Gospels: “I will be with you till the end of time” the message is clear.  God didn’t just come to earth in the physical Jesus.  The early Christians and Christians down through the years would find Jesus present among them in two ways: through the Holy Spirit in their hearts; and through the Eucharist and Communion.  By receiving Communion, the early Christians would reconnect with Christ, would feel his compassion in their hearts, would feel the peace he brought to the world, would feel the hope in the midst of all their crises.  From an early age, Christians understood that by receiving Communion, they would connect with the LIFE OF CHRIST.  Christ would live within them – fully – in his love, in his peace and in his joy.  For that reason, Christians understood from an early stage in the life of our Church that Communion was the great prize.

 

 

 

If Communion was the great prize in the early Christian community, it still is the great prize for you and for me – and for the same reasons.  We want Jesus in Communion because we know that he brings peace into our troubled hearts, he brings clarity in the midst of life’s troubles and he brings a new vision of hope.  I’ve always said that people should always feel free to receive Communion whenever they need. 

 

 

 

Let me tell you of one group that has been in my mind recently – that is the Sick and Housebound within our Parish Communities.  They are very much part of our Community especially when they receive Communion at home.  Some receive Communion from a Eucharistic Minister and all receive Communion from me whenever I can manage.  Here’s my problem.  In two weeks’ time, I will become PP of another community and will have four communities to look after.  So many of you have told me to look after myself – and I intend to do so.  As a result I will not be going round the Sick and Housebound with the same frequency.  My question to Eucharistic Ministers who only distribute Communion at Mass – would you be free to take Communion out to our sick and housebound?

 

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