Sixth Sunday of Easter - Year C - 1st May 2016

God, be gracious and bless us & let your face shed its light upon us.

Surely this is one of the most beautiful petitions ever composed! This psalm was originally used to praise God in anticipation of a good harvest. Rich fields and bountiful crops would reflect the smile of God on the people. During Eastertide we too are spiritually basking in God’s bountiful love that has made us His children in Christ.


It is truly a time for celebration and we particularly rejoice during these days. On Saturday some 35 young parishioners will be Confirmed in their faith by Bishop John Sherrington and during this weekend and coming weekend 50 children from our Parish receive Holy Communion for the first time. None of us can recall our baptism but most of us remember our First Holy Communion Day and what a special day it was. Perhaps our Confirmation day is less memorable but it is still a very important day in our lives when as young adults we committed ourselves to following Christ and were empowered by his Holy Spirit to bring God’s good news of salvation to others.


Even in today's secularised world, the occasion when a child makes its First Holy Communion is an event in the child's life and in the life of the family. On this day when we rejoice to see the children receive the Eucharist for the first time, may God give us the grace to be grateful for every blessing we have received in life, the gift of our home, our parents, our children and above all God’s great desire to establish a bond of union with us - the Divine Indwelling which we received at our baptism.


In today’s Gospel Jesus speaks particularly of this divine union. ��If anyone loves me he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we shall come to him and make our home with him.”


Unfortunately too often most of us forget about this priceless gift. We often live as if our Christianity is like a membership in a club, like it is something outside of us. This forgetfulness restricts God’s power in our lives. God respects our freedom. He chooses to be a guest within our hearts, if we are open to it.


As we celebrate our children’s communion, perhaps it is an appropriate time for us to reflect and to respond again to this wonderful invitation of love and union to which God invites us.


Each time I celebrate Mass at St Patrick’s West Hendon I never fail to reflect on a poster Fr Donald has placed in the sacristy. It reads “O priest of God, celebrate this Mass as if it were your first Mass, your last Mass, your only Mass”.


Perhaps it is a dictum that we could all adopt, “celebrate this communion, as if it were your first communion, your last communion, your only communion.”


Fr Kevin O'Shea, C.M.