6th Sunday of Easter-May 5, 2024

I was solving a crossword puzzle. The clue for a five-letter answer was, “what the waiter says when delivering the food at the table”. I was hoping someone here today would help me with the answer, preferably one of the children making their first communion.

I am talking about food today because the Mass is a meal. The Mass is both a sacrifice and a meal. The celebrant, if you will, is the waiter who brings the meal to the table. At a certain moment during the Mass, the celebrant tells the people to come to receive their food. It is when the celebrant, holding the consecrated host slightly above the paten, while facing the people says aloud, “Behold, the Lamb of God, behold him who takes way the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the Supper of the Lamb”. This last sentence transports us to eternal life, to the wedding feast of heaven. This last sentence is also the way the priest tells the people that now is the moment to come in procession to receive the Bread of Life.

Today this group of six to eight children receive Holy Communion for the first time in their lives. For eight or nine years now, they have been coming to Mass with their families and have not been fed at this table. Up to this point, it was cute to see these children come in procession and extend their hands toward the minister of communion. It was sad to see their faces when we the ministers did not give them the host and their parents took them by their hands and moved them aside.

Once children reach the age of reason and can understand the difference between a piece of bread and the Real Presence of Christ in the sacrament, then, they are ready to receive from the table of God. Today is a memorable and lovely moment for these children. We are happy for them.

In today’s gospel we hear the Lord, at the Last Supper, telling his disciples these beautiful words: “If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy might be complete” (John 15: 9-11). The Lord is revealing the secret for his joy: obedience to his Father’s commandments. The Lord tells his disciples the secret for their joy: obedience to the Lord’s commandments.

Joy or happiness is what everyone wants in life. We are in pursuit of joy and happiness all the time. Today the Lord gives us his advice for the achievement of joy and happiness: obedience to him. Going back to the word that the waiter says to the guests, “enjoy”. Enjoy means rejoicing or taking delight in something. The priest celebrant does not say “enjoy” to the people, inviting them to make the procession for communion. He does not need to say it because it is implied.

Material food certainly offers us enjoyment in this world. However, the enjoyment that Holy Communion gives to a soul is beyond compare. The Eucharist is the true bread from heaven. It is a supernatural food that allows us to taste eternal life here and now. Through the Eucharist we take delight in the reality of heaven.  

We come to Mass with joy every time to receive the Eucharist. We come to Mass every time to receive the fountain of joy and happiness. We are told that Saint Thomas Aquinas ended the celebration of Mass each day in tears, tears of joy. The Eucharist is the most joyful thing in this world because it is the sacrament of God’s love. The precious Body of Christ in the Eucharist is the reminder of the sacrifice of the Lord on the cross. And the Lord’s passion and death is the greatest manifestation of his love for us. The Lord offered himself up on the cross so that we could truly have our sins forgiven. The Eucharist is thus what offers us the greatest joy in life, a joy with the potential of going beyond this life and becoming eternal.

My prayer for these children today is that they may learn to put the Eucharist on the top of their life’s joy and happiness all the days of their lives.