We have come to learn that God is pure love, and in his love, he created man and woman. God wants to spend time with humanity, as he did in the Garden of Eden; but after Adam and Eve chose to disobey Him, humanity was pretty much left to their own designs. God became a Mystery. We began to put words into His mouth and he became scary. Humanity made Him into its own image; He became for us a strict, stern, vengeful God…looking for reasons to zap us. It wasn’t until Jesus came, that we began to learn Who God really is; by that time, we were convinced, that He had it out for us…because we had disobeyed him, so many times. “Jesus came; not to change God’s mind about us; but to change our minds about God.”
Everything that we know about Him, we learned from Jesus. We have faith in Jesus, and how wonderful it would be, if we had the faith of Jesus. In his recent apostolic letter, “The Joy of Love: On The Family”, Pope Francis reminds us that “faith is God’s gift, received in baptism, and not our own work, yet parents are the means that God uses, for it to grow and develop.” When the children making their First Communion today, were baptized as toddlers, the parents made the Sign of the Cross on their foreheads. From that moment on, they prepared them to make their First Communion; and with time, they learned to sign themselves on their own. Sometimes we forget the importance, of the Sign of the Cross. Think about it. We signed ourselves when we started this Holy Mass, and we will end it in the same way. Many of us do it before receiving Communion; and we start every communication we have with God: in prayer or service, with it. We may need to be reminded; that the sign of the cross is a sign of faith. In a few minutes we are going to summarize our faith, by proclaiming a Creed, handed down from the early Church. “We profess with our lips that Jesus is Lord, and in our hearts we believe that God raised him from the dead”; and, we believe that they sent their Holy Spirit to be our spiritual guide…our helper. In a much shorter version, we proclaim all that we believe, when we say: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. It’s one of the first things we teach our children. And, the little children are taught to cross their arms, as a sign of reverence, when they accompany their parents receiving Communion.
Pope Francis also writes, “A child, who sees parents praying and practicing acts of devotion, experiences a much more powerful lesson, than in any religion class, or sermon from the pulpit.” After all, it’s in the family environment…it’s in the family relationship, and domestic church in the home…that we all came to believe God loves us. It’s where we learn what marriage is all about. It’s through our parents that we learn how to be husbands and wives, fathers and mothers. Young people who are receiving the Eucharist for the first time this weekend, are encouraged by their parents to love as they are loved, and as they mature in age; and make their way through the grades and graduate from school, they come to learn that it’s through the Sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist, that they participate in the Body of Christ: in the life of the Church. They learn that the life of the Church includes all of our brothers and sisters, who need help in one way or another…especially the poor. Jesus said the poor will always be with us. Is it because we glorify God with our generosity to the poor; or is it because we will never eliminate poverty, due to our lack of generosity?
There are many ways to help the poor: with our money, time, and talent. We each choose how…with the gifts of the Holy Spirit…because…its how God is going to recognize us…as followers of Jesus…when we meet Him--face to face.