As reasonable people we know that a wedding isn’t the end of married love but the beginning. Christopher and Katherine and every married couple are called to strive throughout the rest of their lives to make the words of their wedding day a reality: I choose you in good times and in bad. Today, on the Most Solemn Feast of the Body and Blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ, I’d like you to consider your relationship with Jesus Christ in a similar way.
How many of you remember your first communion? Were you in a bright white dress? An unfamiliar tie? There was fanfare, family, and cake. You maybe even got to process down the aisle with the others receiving their first holy communion. And much like a wedding, your first communion was the beginning, not the end.
Christopher and Katherine and every married couple are called to renew their marriage vows—not in a ceremony but in the in-the-flesh giving of themselves to each other in their daily life. It is in that constant exchange that husband and wife live out the double action of “I choose” and “I give.” I choose to receive everything that you are and I give everything I am back to you. And of course we see how marriages falter when this in-the-flesh renewal is trivialized and even forgotten.
It is the same with our participation in the Holy Eucharist; here we renew the great double gift of Jesus Christ on the cross. On the cross, Jesus Christ chooses us, chooses me, and chooses you and gives himself completely to us. In receiving the Eucharist we are called to return that choice for him and to give ourselves completely in return. So then our Christian life falters when this in-the-flesh moment of communion is trivialized.
Each Holy Communion, not just your first, is a moment of consummation. We choose Christ and all he teaches when we say “amen,” and we give ourselves to him as we receive his gift of self. We should be deliberate and specific in what we do. We must never forget that receiving the gift of Calvary, the Eucharist, is a privilege and not a right. Not even for me. So I’d like to make a proposal.
Make your moment of communion the most solemn and holy part of your Mass. Four verbs to help you in your Sunday communion: prepare, marshal, receive, and thank. Prepare for communion ahead of time by frequent confession and focused, deliberate prayer before Mass. Marshal your prayers, thoughts, and desires as you walk forward. Receive him reverently, whether on your reverent hands but especially on the tongue, as a baby is fed by her mother. Thank the Lord with a purposeful prayer of communion as you return and kneel in your pew.
Finally, I ask you to consider this. If this truly is Jesus Christ whom we receive, not just a symbol but his Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, then whom do you think would wants us to be nonchalant, trivial and distracted in how we receive? Who would want that but the enemy of our humanity, the enemy of our salvation, Jesus Christ. Just as we wish that no husband or wife should take each other for granted, so we should never take this mystery for granted. Jesus Christ gives himself to us without reservation, let us do the same.