Fr Alec's reflections on the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time
First Communion: Take Two
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15th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2020
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
The Lord be with you. R./ And with your spirit.
Let us pray.
O God, who show the light of your truth to those who go astray,
so that they may return to the right path,
give all who for the faith they profess are accounted Christians
the grace to reject whatever is contrary to the name of Christ
and to strive after all that does it honor.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. R./ Amen.
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A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew (13:1-23)
On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea.
Such large crowds gathered around him
that he got into a boat and sat down,
and the whole crowd stood along the shore.
And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying:
“A sower went out to sow.
And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path,
and birds came and ate it up.
Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil.
It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep,
and when the sun rose it was scorched,
and it withered for lack of roots.
Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it.
But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit,
a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.
Whoever has ears ought to hear.
The disciples approached him and said,
“Why do you speak to them in parables?”
He said to them in reply,
“Because knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven
has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted.
To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich;
from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
This is why I speak to them in parables, because
they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.
Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says:
You shall indeed hear but not understand,
you shall indeed look but never see.
Gross is the heart of this people,
they will hardly hear with their ears,
they have closed their eyes,
lest they see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their hearts and be converted,
and I heal them.
“But blessed are your eyes, because they see,
and your ears, because they hear.
Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people
longed to see what you see but did not see it,
and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.
“Hear then the parable of the sower.
The seed sown on the path is the one
who hears the word of the kingdom without understanding it,
and the evil one comes and steals away
what was sown in his heart.
The seed sown on rocky ground
is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy.
But he has no root and lasts only for a time.
When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word,
he immediately falls away.
The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word,
but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word
and it bears no fruit.
But the seed sown on rich soil
is the one who hears the word and understands it,
who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
First Communion weekend , Take Two! We were supposed to do this two months ago, but something happened. So, here we are today, getting ready to share Jesus for the first time with some of the children of our cluster. It's a big day!
The second reading call us children of God. That's all of us who've been baptized, not just kids, but adult children of God, too. And the Eucharist we receive it mass is the food of the children of God--the food that helps us to be spiritually healthy and spiritually strong, the food that helps us change for the better.
For centuries, God's people were sustained by God's word. That's what the Lord says through his prophet in the first reading: “Just as the rain …come[s] down and waters the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to the one who sows and bread to the one who eats, so shall my word be…my word shall…do my will…” And part of God's will is to build up his people, to build us up, to help us grow as people of faith--people who believe in him, people who trust in him.
Maybe that's why Jesus says elsewhere that his followers need to become like little children. Little children are trusting, like our first Eucharist candidates. They may be shy around strangers, but they trust their parents. They believe that their parents love them and want what's best for them. But, sometimes as we get older, things happen that make it harder for us--harder to trust other people, even harder for us to trust God. Nevertheless, God is trustworthy. Jesus trusted God, even in his suffering, and God raised Jesus up on that first Easter Sunday, proving himself to be trustworthy beyond anyone’s imagining. The resurrection shows us that God can be trusted.
When we approach the priest for communion, we trust the what we receive is no longer bread and wine. Through the prayers of the mass and through the power of the Holy Spirit, it has really become the Body and Blood of Christ. That's awesome! God's word sustained God's people for centuries, but now the word has become flesh. The word became flesh for the first time when Jesus was born on Christmas Day, and the word becomes flesh whenever we come to holy mass. It becomes real food and drink. And, usually, we just receive a small portion. But looks can be deceiving. The whole Christ is given to us in communion. Even if it's just a small wafer we receive, it's the whole Christ, body, blood, soul, and divinity. All of him. If I have a bigger host than you, it doesn't mean I get more Jesus. We all get the same.
Okay, so we all get the same Jesus, but what difference does that make in our lives. That somewhat depends on us. God's grace is the most important part. Without God's grace, we can't change for the better. Jesus says, “Without me, you could do nothing.” But God doesn't force us to become better. He helps us to become better. Someone once said, “ Without God, I can't; without me, he won't.” “Without God, I can't; without me, he won't.” He depends on our cooperation. That’s the gospel reading. Some people receive God's word and receive the word made flesh and it makes a big difference, but only if they are open to it. Only if they cooperate with God. “Some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit.” Only some soil is good soil for the seed to grow.
This first communion weekend, how much do we really want to change for the better? Do we really believe we need to change for the better? Are we willing to work at it? God will help us. Jesus comes to us in the Eucharist to help us. But they're not going to do all the work. They're not going to change is against our will or without our cooperation. The first Eucharist kids trust in God and trust in Jesus. [Right kids? You trust in God, right? You trust in Jesus.] If we trust in God and if we trust in Jesus, then we'll do our best to cooperate with them, as they help us change for the better.
The Lord be with you. R./ And with your spirit.
May Almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. R./ Amen