“Before the feast of Passover, Jesus realized that the hour had come for him to pass from this world to the Father.” (John 13:1)
At his time of year there are a lot of banquets and parties as we celebrate the rites of passage in our Church and in our civil society. This weekend and next our family of four parishes will celebrate the Sacrament of First Holy Communion. Besides the sacred liturgy there will be house parties where family and friends will share a meal and eat a piece of Communion cake. Many organizations have their end of the year banquet for sporting events where awards are given out. Starting next month until June we will honor our graduates for 2016. Many people have a graduation party. And the wedding season kicks into full gear for Fr. Tim and me; at the wedding reception, there is always a meal and toasts for a bright future. What happens at most of these meals is the gathering of the clan where stories are told and food is shared. We are changed by the food and company that we keep.
Today’s gospel excerpt is taken from John 13: The Book of Glory. Jesus’ glorification began with a meal before Passover where he washed the feet of his disciples, gave them His Body and Blood and then pronounced his last discourse before going to the Garden of Olives. How appropriate that our Jewish friends are beginning the celebration of Passover this weekend, where they recall the saving event of the Exodus. After Jesus shared his very life in the Eucharist, an expression of his love, he gave his “final will and testament” to his disciples and to us: “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” (John 13:34)
We are changed as we share in the Eucharist. We share the sacred stories. We eat the Body and drink the Blood of the Lord Jesus. We are “consecrated” for service to the Lord. There are several touching moments in the Mass for me besides the consecration of the bread and wine: the procession with the food items where all the children run up and place their donations in the basket and the reception of Holy Communion as I look at the hands and into the eyes of those receiving the Lord. Please pray for our First Communicants and their families and all the visitors who will come to our churches these next two weekends.
Fr. Mike Michalski