This past weekend on Sunday, Divine Mercy Sunday I attended mass at Seton Hall University. At the 8pm mass we celebrated the Sacraments of initiation to the Church. 2 people were baptized, 4-6 were received into the Church, and 8-10 were Confirmed and received Eucharist or First Holy Communion for the first time.
As usual it was a beautiful celebration, but something struck me at this mass and celebration that I haven't noticed in awhile or that I may never have thought about before. As I watched the individuals receive Communion for the first time, I can remember 2 people especially whose faces lit up with absolute joy and excitement. It forced me to smile and my eyes filled with tears. And then I thought to myself, what is my reaction when I receive Eucharist, when I receive Jesus? The more I thought about it the more I realized that it was not the joy and excitement that I just witnessed others experiencing. Why shouldn't every time we receive be like the first time?
Not to say that I take receiving Communion for granted, because I don't, I celebrate each time that I receive Jesus. But I thought, could I, or should I receive Him with more joy? Compared to receiving Jesus is there a more peaceful or joyful thing that we could ever do!!?!? I've come to the conclusion of no.
In the past few weeks I have become more and more interested in the life of the late Great Blessed Pope John Paul II. So I looked to a few of his thoughts on the Eucharist.
"The Eucharist is also a great call to conversion. We know that it is an invitation to the banquet; that, by nourishing ourselves on the Eucharist, we receive in it the body and blood of Christ, under the appearances of bread and wine. Precisely because of this invitation, the Eucharist is and remains the call to conversion. If we receive it as such a call, such an invitation, it brings forth in us its proper fruits. It transforms our lives. It makes us a "new man", a "new creature" (Gal. 6:15; Eph. 2:15; 2 Cor. 5:17). It helps us not to be "overcome by evil, but to overcome evil by good" (Rom. 12:21). The Eucharist helps love to triumph in us -- love over hatred, zeal over indifference." Homily in Dublin's Phoenix Park 9/29/1979
"From the Eucharist springs the Church's mission and capacity to offer her specific contribution to the human family. The Eucharist effectively transmits Christ's parting gift to the world: "Peace I give you, my peace I leave you" (John 14:27). The Eucharist is the sacrament of Christ's "peace" because it is the memorial of the salvific redemptive sacrifice of the cross. The Eucharist is the sacrament of victory over the divisions that flow from personal sin and collective selfishness. Therefore, the Eucharistic community is called to be a model and instrument of a reconciled humanity. In the Christian community there can be no division, no discrimination, no separation among those who break the bread of life around the one altar of sacrifice." Homily at Seoul, South Korea 10/18/1988
I know that the next several times that I receive the Eucharist I will be thinking more about what it means and how I receive it. Please join me in doing the same and may the experience of receiving the Eucharist be transformational and may we all truly experience Christ's peace. What could be more joyful?