Homily for the Sixth Sunday of Easter: First Communion
Audio for homily
(In my parish we celebrate First Communion in small groups at Sunday Mass. Usually I preach the homily I have for the weekend at these special liturgies, adding a First Communion "twist" near the end. This weekend, however, I wrote my homily directly for the First Communion assemblies at our Saturday 5:00 and Sunday 11:30 Masses.)
Boys and girls: I know you all have friends
and maybe some of you have best friends.
how do you stay friends with your best friend?
Let’s say my best friend’s name is Bill:
how would I stay friends with Bill?
• Well, I’d spend time with Bill
and I’d hope that Bill would want to spend time with me.
• I’d talk with Bill. And I’d listen to Bill.
And I’d want Bill to listen to me, too.
• I’d let Bill know when I’m feeling sad and when I’m feeling happy.
• I’d want to be there for Bill should he ask something of me
and I hope that Bill would be there for me
if I needed something from him.
• Certainly I would never try to hurt Bill
and I’d trust that Bill would never want to hurt me.
• And I’d get together with Bill for dinner and we’d spend time
remembering and talking about the good old days
and what made us friends.
I’m pretty sure those are the ways
you stay friends with your best friend.
And I’m thinking about all this
as I listen to what Jesus tells us in the gospel today.
Jesus wants to be best friends with each of you – and with all of us here.
Here’s how Jesus puts it:
“I love you and I call you my friends. Remain in my love.”
Remain… Stay best friends with me…
Being best friends with Jesus is a lot like my being best friends with Bill.
• If I want to stay friends with Jesus, I need to spend time with him.
• I need to talk to Jesus in my prayers
and I need to trust that he hears me and listens to me,
that he wants to know when I’m happy
and he wants to know when I’m sad.
• I need to listen what Jesus might want to say to me:
in my prayers, in the scriptures and especially at Mass.
• To be friends with Jesus I need to try to do nothing that hurt him…
and to remember that when I hurt others, I hurt Jesus, too,
because Jesus lives in all the people around me.
• As a friend of Jesus I need to do what he asks me to do,
especially when he asks me to help other people
to forgive other people, to reach out to other people
and I need to trust that Jesus is always there to help me, too.
• And yes, to be friends with Jesus
means getting together with for dinner
– or for supper, for his Last Supper.
And that’s just what we’re doing right now:
we came to the table of Jesus to have Supper with him
to share in the food of the Eucharist, in Holy Communion,
and it’s right at this table that we remember the good old days,
the stories in the scriptures,
and all the ways the Lord has helped his people
in every generation
and we remember together why it is
we want to be best friends with Jesus.
And that’s what makes this day so very special.
It’s the first time YOU have an opportunity
to become best friends with Jesus in Communion.
Most of us, of course, became best friends with Jesus in Communion
years ago and through all those years, between then and now,
Jesus has wanted to be friends with every single one of us,
has wanted us to “remain in his love…”
But some of us along the way may have forgotten Jesus,
pretty much lost touch with him,
haven’t come to visit him,
-- except maybe on his birthday, at Christmas.
But even if we haven’t remained faithful to Jesus
but he has always remained faithful to us
no matter how much we might have forgotten our friendship with Jesus,
he has never forgotten his friendship with us
because he’s the best friend any of us can ever hope to have.
He never lets us down.
And if today, at this First Communion Mass,
some are coming back to Jesus, this morning,
he’s as happy to see them come back again to this table
as we’re happy to see these children
coming to Communion for the first time.
Boys and girls,
I’m going to pray today that you’ll stay best friends with Jesus
for your whole life.
And I’m going to pray for any “older boys and girls”
who might be coming back to visit, today,
to visit with the most faithful friend you’ll ever have.
I’m praying that you’ll begin, again, today, to remain in Jesus’ love
and to know that he remains in you, always.
So much did Jesus love all of us
that he laid down his life for us on the Cross.
And here at the altar of the Eucharist
he shares with us the life he gave
so that we might have life, his joy, and find peace in him,
in Jesus, the best friend any one of us will ever have.
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