5 Jun 2016
“When [Jesus] saw her, he was moved with pity for her …” (Luke 7:13)
In the name …
This past Thursday I donated blood. I don’t know how many days exactly you have to wait between donations, and the reason I don’t know is because I never have to check. As soon as I can donate again, the Red Cross calls me and asks if I’m ready to give another pint. I don’t like giving blood so much in the hot weather because I’m usually wearing short sleeves. That means people can see that ugly yellow iodine stain on your arm, the gauze and the bandage. It looks kind of yucky. But I do get a good feeling from donating my blood. I enjoy thinking about the fact that my blood is floating through someone else’s body who really must have needed it.
You four girls are too young to watch Seinfeld on television, but there was one episode where Jerry cut himself by accident and he needed to get a blood transfusion. Jerry has a somewhat crazy or at least eccentric neighbour across the hall from him by the name of Kramer. When Jerry woke up after his operation and found out that Kramer had donated his blood for his buddy Jerry, and that now Kramer’s blood was inside of him, Jerry started screaming. His body couldn’t tell the difference between his own blood and the blood donated by Kramer, but it still freaked him out that Kramer was now a part of him. I like to think of my blood becoming a part of somebody else, hopefully not making them scream when they find out, but still I’m part of them.
Who knows where my blood has gone? I don’t travel much, but maybe my blood has. I love music, but can’t do it well, but maybe my blood is playing in some local band this weekend. You know I talk a lot about women’s Ordination in our church, but I can’t figure out women for the life of me. Maybe my blood is pulsing through a woman’s body right now, but hopefully not still confused. But in all seriousness, it does make me feel good to know that maybe my blood is out there helping other people to do the things they love to do, and that that one pint of me gets to go along for the ride.
Now why in the world am I talking about something as gross as blood on such a special day as your First Holy Communion Sunday? Why am I talking about something so yucky-red when you four young ladies look so beautiful in your white dresses? I’m hoping it helps to get across the message that when you come forward to receive your First Holy Communion, and we’re going to call this “First” no matter what mistake may have taken place in the past – right Claire?, that when you come forward you are going to invite Jesus into your lives in a new, special and sacred way. And when you do this, when you invite Jesus to come into communion with you, then Jesus is going to stay with you. He’s going to go with you wherever you go.
I think it was last Saturday night that I was flipping through the TV stations trying to find something to watch for a while before going to bed. And I think that’s when I ran across the last Harry Potter movie. I don’t know if you girls are Harry Potter fans or not, but in the part of the movie I saw the bad guy and all the bad guy forces were arranged for battle outside of the Hogwarts castle. The castle was being protected by some sort of magic spell. The good guys could go only so far and stay safe, but they couldn’t cross beyond the castle. It’s not that way with Jesus and your First Holy Communion. You don’t keep Jesus with you just inside of the church building. It’s not like Jesus slips away once you walk down those front steps. It’s not like He stays here and you go on your way until you come back again for your Second Holy Communion and then your Third and so forth. When you receive Communion, you receive Jesus, and Jesus is going to go with you wherever you go. In that way, He’s like my donated blood going with people I don’t even know to all sorts of places to do all sorts of things.
We spent a lot of time in catechism talking about how to prepare for Holy Communion. We talked about keeping the fast and going to Confession. I told you after your Confessions yesterday to try and be good for the next 24 hours because you just had all your sins forgiven so don’t go out and replace them by doing stuff like fighting with your brothers or sisters as soon as you get in the car. But what I want to impress upon you now is just how important the after Communion is. Jesus doesn’t stop at the door of the church. Like I said, He’s going to go wherever you go.
I know this is bit of a nerve-racking day, there’s a lot going on for you, but does anyone remember what the Gospel story was about? Don’t worry a bunch of the people behind you don’t remember either. A funeral procession is going by in the city of Nain. And the boy who died was the only son of a mother who had already lost her husband. That’s a pretty sad story. Jesus is going to make it all better with a great miracle, but only Jesus can do that, only Jesus can bring the dead back to life. But I think something is even more important in this story than the miracle. The Bible tells us that when Jesus saw this sad sight of a widowed mother burying her only child, that He felt terrible inside. Jesus was sad and He understood why those people were crying. That’s the Jesus who will be leaving with you this morning and going out with you wherever you go. He’s a good guy. He cares about everyone. It says of Him the Bible that He’s so peaceful He wouldn’t even extinguish a candle.
I’m not saying this to make you nervous. I’m saying it’s like my blood donation. It helps people to do what they like to do. Jesus comes to you in Holy Communion and stays with you and gives you the strength and the willpower to do the good things He knows you can do. It’s a blessing to carry Jesus with you in the world and that’s something to cherish, to hold on to and to make you smile. May today be a blessed day for you, and for this may all the rest of us pray, in Jesus’ name. Amen. (+)
Fr. Randolph Calvo