Most definitely, this is the season of “First Communions.” I know one set of grandparents who had three in one weekend! While I admit that a mini-platoon of fashionably forward second-graders walking down the aisle is awfully cute, it’s actually “second” communions that really tug on my heart strings.
Last weekend, I watched the communion line as many of the children walked forward with their families for the second time to receive the Eucharist. No white dress. No pint-sized blue blazer. There is, however, a shy awkwardness, a can’t-quite-remember-how-the-hands-go kind of moment, with Mom or Dad watching closely and proudly. I’m convinced that this second time is probably an even bigger juncture for most of the kids as they take their place in what was, before, a grown-ups only transaction. Coming to the table and receiving the Eucharist just like they’ve watched their parents do, or their grandparents do, or every other adult in the church do, is big stuff to an eight-year-old….
….and it’s pretty big stuff to this fifty-eight year old, too, especially when I take in the image of all the others who are coming to the table. The sheer diversity of people, streaming down the aisle, all stages of life and from such a broad range of experiences, never fails to move me. We are all so beautifully different, and yet have so much in common, not the least of which is a shared desire for some peace and meaning in life, a search for God, for holiness. That’s a pretty humbling common denominator, one that my own experience tells me develops best within a community setting. We need each other to figure this out. No one of us gets all the answers or all the gifts, but when you witness the assortment of creation that is walking down the aisle at a Sunday Mass, you might get the comforting message that, indeed, we have been given all that we need to connect the dots. A little piece of the puzzle is tucked into every life and the Eucharist not only brings it all together, but reminds us we are all part of a larger picture, and that God dwells between and among all those parts.
So thank you, parents, for bringing the kids back for their second and third and 108th Eucharist. This next sacramental generation is an encouragement to us all. The more we share from this table, the more abundant the feast becomes, the clearer the sign of the Risen Christ among us………