4th Sunday of Easter 2019 (readings)
[This was a particularly difficult reflection to write. It’s the 4th Sunday of Easter, plus we had 10 First Communions, plus it’s Mother’s Day in the US. Fitting all of this together took well over 4 hrs of work.]
Moms, I’m sure you can relate to this: Your child is watching television or YouTube, or playing a videogame, and you need them to take out the trash, or do their homework, whatever. You call their name, no response. You walk over to them trying to get their attention, no response. You repeat yourself a dozen times! And still no response.
The Gospel today speaks to this phenomenon when Christ says, “My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me.” We are the sheep; Christ is the Good Shepherd who cares for his flock and protects them.
The underlying implication of this scripture is that the sheep that belong to Christ KNOW his voice; kind of like how your children know your voice, even though they pretend not to hear it. Now, the best way to get to know the voice of Christ is through His Church, and specifically through devout reception of the Most Holy Eucharist.
Today about 10 of you are making your First Holy Communion. That’s amazing. Let’s pause a second and applaud the good work God is doing in these holy souls. [Pause]
Although these things look only like bread and wine, I promise you they are not. It is truly and really the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. When the priest holds up the Eucharist and says to you, “The Body of Christ,” you respond with Amen! That amen is an acclamation that, YES I believe! Truly, this is Christ.
Now children, listen to your mothers, just as Christ listened to his. However, if you’re anything like I was at your age, you’re probably not paying attention to anything I’m saying, that’s okay. So parents, please listen.
Today your child is making their First Holy Communion, but what about their second? Third? Fourth? Don’t stop today. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is far more important than sleeping in, it is far more important than any sporting event ever could be.
Now that they can receive Jesus Christ in the flesh at every single Mass, why shouldn’t they? Faith in Jesus Christ is paramount, and as their parents you are their primary teachers in the faith; if you are devout and loving, they’ll be devout and loving; but if you don’t take Christ seriously, neither will they.
Mothers, when you gave birth to your little ones, God placed an obligation on you and their father to teach them the faith, and at their baptism, you shared that obligation with their godparents; don’t neglect it.
While Christ is our Good Shepherd, he never forces anything on us. He won’t make you come to Mass, he won’t make you love Him. However, he wants you to be here, he wants you to want to receive him in the Blessed Sacrament every day of your life! And this is how we come to know the voice of the Good Shepherd, by spending time with Christ in prayer, by listening when the Church speaks, by paying attention to the movements of the Holy Spirit inside of us, and by frequent confession and Holy Communion.
I can’t help but make the connection between the Eucharist and the Mother of God, the Blessed Virgin Mary. Christ was her gift to the world, and so it’s only fitting, mothers, that you share this Mother’s Day with your child in their first reception of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.
St. Francis de Sales reminds us, “When you have received Him, stir up your heart to do Him homage; speak to Him about your spiritual life, gazing upon Him in your soul where He is present for your happiness; welcome Him as warmly as possible, and behave outwardly in such a way that your actions may give proof to all of His Presence.”
To end, it seems fitting that as a community, as a family of believers, we pray especially that Mary, the Great Mother of God, intercede for mothers everywhere today, that they may receive every blessing from Christ, the Good Shepherd, as we pray:
Hail Mary …