Homily – June 2018
ARCHBISHOP CHRISTOPHER PROWSE
CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF CANBERRA AND GOULBURN
SUNDAY 3 JUNE 2018
ST GREGORY’S PARISH QUEANBEYAN
FIRST HOLY COMMUNION
THE MOST HOLY BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST (YEAR B)
Exodus 24:3-8, Hebrews 9:11-15, Mark 14:12-16. 22-26
History shows that already three canonised Saints have passed through Queanbeyan over the decades. All of them have one thing in common. They all had a great devotion the Eucharist. They saw it as the centre of their Catholic lives.
It was interesting to visit the children, who are in front of me now, last Friday at school. We got to know each other when we talked about the importance of their First Holy Communion. Welcome children! When I asked you “What do you want to be when you grow up?” You gave me various answers. I was surprised that so many said that they wanted to be a “famous” person. There was the reply that somebody wanted to be a famous soccer player, another wanted to be a famous racing car driver and so on.
Dear children on your First Holy Communion Day, I want you to be famous Catholics!
What does this mean?
Well the historians tell us that three Saints have passed through Queanbeyan. St Mary of the Cross McKillop, our Australian Saint, apparently came into your Parish several times over her many travels in Australia.
Then there was Saint John Paul II. He visited Queanbeyan in 1973 before he was Pope and celebrated Mass for the Polish community here in this area.
Then, more recently, Saint Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) visited here twice. She established her Missionaries of Charity in your Parish. They are still here, thanks be to God! Indeed, some of them are at this Mass right now.
These are all famous Catholics, they are all Saints. What did they have in common? It was the Eucharist. Each one of them declared that the Eucharist was the very centre of their Christian lives.
St Teresa of Calcutta made the lovely comment that “When you look at the Crucifix, you understand how much Jesus loved you then. When you look at the Sacred Host, you understand how much Jesus loves you now”.
St John Paul II said that “The Eucharist is the secret of my day. It gives strength and meaning to all my activities of service to the Church and to the whole World.”
Being a “famous” Catholic means growing in our love of the Eucharist. The first point is that the Eucharist is God’s love for us. The Body and Blood of Jesus is given to us as Gift. It is Jesus feeding his people with Holy Food for God’s Holy People. It gives us nourishment for our journey in this life as we prepare for the life to come.
The second point is that when we love people in return we are the Eucharist to them, in a certain way. Our Eucharistic is mission is to be the presence of Christ to the world. When we see those on the periphery of life we see a particular manifestation of Christ in a needy form. It is Jesus who is hungry and homeless, it is Jesus who is suffering from mental illness and difficulties in life. We both bring Jesus to them and we see Jesus in them.
This Eucharistic Missionary Discipleship actually really begins at the end of Mass. The Priest says “Go the Mass is ended”, in other words, he says you have received the Eucharist now be the Eucharist to the world.
I recall many years ago, after receiving her First Communion, a young girl eventually began to bring her whole family back to the practice of Sunday Mass. She told her parents and family that Jesus was waiting for her every Sunday at Mass and she didn’t want to disappoint Jesus. Slowly and slowly her good example and her growing love of Jesus in the Eucharist helped to reorientate the family’s priorities and they gave a far greater priority to the weekly celebration of the Mass in their local Parish. To me this young girl is a famous Catholic already!
So dear children I ask you to be famous Catholics. See this moment of your First Eucharist as a moment you will never forget. God’s love for you is coming so deep within you and giving you all that you need to be his Eucharistic nourishment for the world. This is my prayer for you and your family.