Fr. John's Column - April 30, 2017
I admit that it has been a long
time since I checked out a book from a library. It is just so easy now to order
any book online or have it downloaded to an electronic device. Then it is
“mine”. I can read it at my own pace, mark it as I wish, and not worry if I
lose it. It is after all “mine”. The principle of a library is a great thing.
It is putting Christian values into action. The idea is that many things are
owned essentially in common and available for use by others – this is how the
early Christians lived. We heard about this last week in our first reading. It
is how Sisters, priests, and Brothers living in community continue to interact
The purpose of owning in common and
sharing is not for the economic benefit it provides. It is also not about
limiting what a person might own individually, nor is it solely connected to
the idea that then all will have and no one will be without. The idea of
collectively owning and sharing is that it helps one appreciate and maintain a
sense of gratitude – that everything is a gift. This principle is the
foundation for every spirituality, morality, and commandment. Nothing can be
claimed as our own and nothing comes to us by right.
Children are typically required to
ask for permission, whether it is to possess something, use something, go
somewhere, or do something. We often relate asking permission with childhood
and many long for the day when they no longer need to ask for that
authorization or consent. We are taught to “seize the day”, “claim what is rightfully
ours”, “go after the gold coin”, and “work toward ownership”. Anything less is
seen not as a virtue, but as a fault.
Quite often we hear how Jesus said
that the children and the poor can more easily enter into heaven than the rich.
He is not idolizing their innocence or poverty, but instead acknowledging their
sense of dependence.
This weekend and next we celebrate
with many of our children as they receive the Eucharist for the first time. The
emphasis here is that they “receive” as we all receive. The word “Eucharist”
means “thanksgiving”. It is one thing in our lives that we truly can only
receive; it cannot be purchased or made by human hands. It is the ultimate
reminder that we are dependent upon our God. We are not the creators but the
receivers. As a result our hearts must burn with a sense of gratefulness. By
consuming the Eucharist it does not now become ours, rather we become it: we
become Christ. We must now go out and live for him whom we received.
We pray for our children receiving
the Eucharist for the first time and for us as well. We pray for one another that
we too may recognize Christ in the sharing of his Body and Blood as those
disciples recognized him in the breaking of bread on the road to Emmaus. Let us
appreciate the wonder and innocence with which the children receive their First
Holy Communion, and reflect and appreciate that same wonder and innocence
ourselves. For nowhere else but in the celebration of the Mass during Eucharist
can we fully partake of the essence of Jesus Christ.
Next week at the 5:00 pm Mass we
will be blessed to celebrate with our high school students the Sacrament of
Confirmation. Bishop Powers will be with us as an incredible group of young
people receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Please pray for them as they are
anointed and become one with us in the fullness of the faith.