It’s the first Saturday in May. The sun is shining today; there’s a spring warmth in the air; birds are singing, trees are becoming greener by the day, plants and flowers are in bud – but there is something vital to this day and to this weekend which is missing. Today and tomorrow should be our First Communions and we know that they cannot take place at this fraught moment in time. So our thoughts and indeed prayers go out to you in a special way today, boys and girls. You bring joy and life to us. Your presence is a sign of hope for us and the future of the body of Christ here in our parish family, in your own families and in your schools.
We need to celebrate your First Communion with you because in so doing, while we celebrate with you, we are also reminded again of who we are and what is truly life giving for us. For many of us it opens up the channels of precious memories in our own sacramental lives. It calls us to appreciate anew the gift that has been ours in the Eucharist over many years.
The Sunday liturgy speaks to us this weekend about the one whom we call our good Shepherd. For many years, the Church has also focussed on the ongoing need for more Vocations to the priesthood. It is sometimes even termed “Vocations Sunday”. Frequently there is a letter from one of the Bishops to reinforce that message and appeal. Always, there is an extra collection! Whenever there is a First Communion Mass, then obviously that is what should and would take pride of place. The homily would be surely directed above all to the children and their families.
Perhaps today when we are forced to postpone our first communions and when we sense the ongoing pain and sorrow at the forced temporary loss of celebrating Eucharist, we can reflect on the truth that, just as we need the celebration of First Communions for the ongoing life and spiritual health of the Church, so we also need the ongoing service of priesthood to help that spiritual life and health to continue. First Communion, and the commitment to see that as something vital in life, must operate in full harmony with the call to serve the Lord in the priesthood. One requires the other in order that the Church continues to live.
So today let’s pray for our children. Let us pray that the delay for our children in going to the table of the Lord to be nourished and formed as Christ’s brothers and sisters may be as short as possible. Let us pray also, that there may be a continued awareness in our Church and in our parish of the great need to ensure that there is a continued supply of priests to serve our Church.
Let us pray that our Good Shepherd’s voice may be heard by us all today as he says to us in the Eucharist and through the priesthood, “I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full”
Good Shepherd Sunday