Dear Brothers and Sisters –
Today is a great day at St. Ignatius because we welcome 21 members of our parish community to the Table of the Lord as they receive their First Communion. In their reception of the Eucharist, they meet Jesus in a new and profound way; Jesus, our Good Shepherd, our Life and Resurrection, who cares for us in our every need.
Some of our students were asked to write a note in response to, “What are you looking forward to in celebrating your First Communion?” and “List three things you learned this year.”
Taking a bit of editorial license with regard to spelling, there were many variations on, “I’m looking forward to eating the bread and drinking the wine on my First Communion.” However, there were two responses that particularly caught my attention, as they were charming on the first level and profound on a second. The first was, “I am looking forward to seeing my family.” Of course, this child was likely speaking of relatives from out of town who are here to celebrate this milestone in his/her life. But, there is a deeper meaning there, for when we gather for Mass, when we come to the Table to receive the Eucharist, we do gather as a family, a community called by Jesus to be his presence of kindness, good will, and service in our fractured world today. I always look forward to seeing that, too.
The second response with some theological implication was, “I am looking forward to finally getting to have the Eucharist.” It’s that word “finally” that speaks. Perhaps this girl or boy was feeling the length of the year and of the long year in preparation for this Sacrament. But, it also speaks to that existential longing that we are created with, a longing that is only fulfilled when we are in relationship with God. That hunger is satisfied partly at the Table, in the Eucharist; partly in our service to others; partly through prayer and time with God; partly in living lives of virtue; partly in the myriad other ways that we creatively find to be in communion with the Lord. “I am looking forward to finally getting to have the Eucharist.” It’s not far from what St. Augustine reminds us, “You made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” Finally.
On behalf of our faith community, I wish our First Communicants every good blessing and a wonderful day with your families. May you always feel part of this family, and we look forward to the ways you will bring your gifts to us, that we may be even more authentically the Body of Christ in our world. I also wish to thank our catechists, Ana Gonzales Lane and Vanita Louie, for your dedication to and care for our young people. The greatest gift you have given them as you have prepared them for today is your example of kindness and faith. “Values are caught, not taught,” and our children have been blessed by you.
On another note, I want to call your attention to an event that has been in our bulletin for a number of weeks. Our partners at the Ignatian Solidarity Network are hosting the Jesuit Parish Justice Summit, June 17 & 18, at Regis University in Denver. This two-day conference is an opportunity to connect and engage with like-minded faith community members working for social justice through various ministries in their home parishes. Joining four members of our own parish, there will be attendees from Jesuit parishes in Baltimore, New York, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Sacramento, Portland, Boston, and Washington, D.C. The Summit is a terrific opportunity to meet with members of Jesuit parishes from all over the country, to share and learn more about what our fellow faith communities are working toward, and to discern and pray over the way to serving the common good. If you are interested in learning more about the Jesuit Parish Justice Summit, please contact parishioner Devi Zinzuvadia (firstname.lastname@example.org or 415-702-9590) or look for the info flyer posted on our church bulletin boards.
God bless you and all whom you carry in your hearts.
Oremus pro invicem.