Sunday, June 3, 2018

Give Blood, Give Life

We had ten childrenfive boys and five girlsreceive their First Holy Communion at Mass this Sunday. One of the girls eagerly started to take her shoes off...and mom put a quick stop to that.  This picture with Evan gives you some idea about the mood after Mass:

   The Most Holy Body & Blood of Christ   B 

Boys and girls, you know that for a long time I’ve baked bread with the children as they got ready for their First Holy Communion.  We didn’t do that yesterday—I thought we’d change things up a bit—but we did talk for a few minutes about how bread is made: with flour and water.  

Well, there’s one thing we didn’t get to yesterday that I thought we could do right now.  To celebrate Mass, we don’t only need bread; we also need wine.  So I thought we’d make a little wine today.  Did you all wash your feet this morning?  I’ve got this little tub here, and I bought these grapes.  Why don’t you start taking off your shoes so we can stomp out some wine…

This is when five mothers start saying, “Not in that pretty white dress, you won’t!”

To squash grapes with our feet in your nice church clothes would be crazy, right?  It would make a huge mess!  But doing that would be a lot less crazy than what Jesus did that has talking about wine in the first place today, what Jesus did to show us how much he loved us when he died on the Cross.

We just heard the story of Jesus’ Last Supper on the night before he died.  At the table with his friends, he took the break, broke it, and said, “Take this and eatit: this is my Body.”  And then he took a cup of wine and said, “Take this and drinkit: this is my Blood.”

Our readings at Mass today are full of blood—lots and lots of blood.  There’s the blood of bulls and goats.  There’s bowls of blood splashed on the altar.  And there’s more blood sprinkled on the people.  Sounds pretty gross, right?  And it would far more messy if we did that today than if we actually stomped out these grapes to make a little wine.

So why all this talk about blood?  Why is blood so important as you receive your First Communion?  Let me tell you a little story to help you understand.

A girl about your age named Lisa was very, very sick—so sick that the doctors were worried she was going to die.  But they knew there was one thing that could make Lisa better, and that was a blood transfusion. (Do you know what a transfusion is?  It’s when someone gives their blood to someone else who needs it.)

Well, because Lisa was so sick, they knew they would need blood that was a perfect match—and they knew where they could get it: from her five-year-old brother, Josh. Because Josh was so young, the doctors were worried about asking for his blood, so they tried to explain everything to him slowly and carefully.  And when they were done, Josh made a serious face, thought about it for just a minute, and said, “Yes, I’ll do it to save my sister.”

The two kids were lying on hospital beds, side by side.  And as Josh’s blood started to flow in Lisa’s veins, she started to look better. She opened her eyes and the color began to come back to her cheeks.  Everybody smiled, including Josh.  But then Josh’s face went white, he got very serious again, and called the doctors over to his bed.

Josh asked, “Will I start to die right away?”  You see, Josh hadn’t really understood what the doctors were asking him. He thought he was going to have to give Lisa allof his blood.

Josh knew that when your blood gets separated from your body, you die.  He understood that blood is life.  But he was willing to make that sacrifice for his big sister.

A sacrifice is when you give up or give away something good and important and precious in order to help make something or somebody better.  And it’s the sacrifice that Jesus made for you that makes your First Communion possible today.  Jesus gave up his life here on earth so that you would be able to have life with him in heaven some day.  And Jesus gave away all of his Blood because he wanted to share his life, and not only with the twelve Apostles at the Last Supper.  Through his Apostles and then through priests after them, in the Sacrament we call the Eucharist, Jesus left a way for all people, everywhere, for thousands of years—including you, boys and girls—to have Jesus’ life within them, to have Jesus’ Blood flowing through their own veins.

Yesterday, when we were exploring behind the scenes in the sacristy, we looked at the silver chalice that was made when I was ordained a priest and offered my first Mass. And we saw on the bottom of it that it has my name and the date I became a priest.  But it also has these words:I will raise the cup of salvation; I will call upon the name of the Lord—words from the Psalm we sang about 10 minutes ago

This is no ordinary cup, because it holds no ordinary drink.  In just a few minutes, the deacon will fill this chalice with wine. And not long afterward, when you come forward to receive Holy Communion, if go to drink from it, what’s inside will still look like wine, and taste like wine, and smell like wine (and hopefully not like any stinky feet that helped to make it).  But what’s in this chalice won’t be wine anymore; it will be the Blood of Christ.  When we lift up this chalice, it’s the sacrifice of Jesus for you.

And that’s why we call it the “cup of salvation,” because what’s inside of it has the power to save our lives.  What Josh was willing to do for Lisa should make you think of what Jesus has done for you. Jesus was willing to die, willing to shed allof his Blood on the Cross, so that he could save you, so that you can live forever.

Boys and girls, today is a very special day as you receive your First Holy Communion.  But it’s a very special day every time we offer Mass, every time we’re able to receive the Body and Blood of Christ.  So every time that you walk up to the altar, be sure to remember the sacrifice Jesus made to show his love, and be sure to have a heart full of thanks that he left this great Sacrament so his own life could flow in you.

* * *
After Holy Communion:
Lord Jesus, in the Sacrament of your Body and Blood, you have given yourself to us as food and drink: our Bread of Life and Chalice of Salvation.  Stay always in our hearts!

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