I Am the Bread of Life

Experience of First Holy Communion

Throughout this week, we have been reading John 6 which we call the Eucharistic Discourse. Jesus declares who is: “I am the Bread of Life.” And He goes on to say: “He who eats of this bread will live forever… And I will raise him up on the last day….. Unless you eat of the flesh of the Son of man and drink of His blood, you shall not have life within you.”

‘This is an intolerable language. Who can accept that… how can he give us His flesh? ‘One by one they left. Jesus did not call them back to say: ‘Oh I don’t mean it that way. I’m just speaking symbolically. No, He looks at his close disciples and asks them: ‘What about you? Are you going to leave, too?’ It was as if our whole faith in the Eucharist was hanging in a balance at that time. Peter steps forward and says to Jesus: ‘Lord, to whom shall we go. You have the message of eternal life.’

To whom shall we go? Who are we as Catholics? We are a people of the Eucharist. We are a people who keep our eyes on our Eucharistic Lord always: in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, when we are happy and when we are sad; when we are discouraged and when we are excited, when we feel lonely and when we feel loved.

In these days, I have been receiving calls from people who are thankful that we have the privilege to have a live streamed Mass every day. However, they share with me the great hope in their hearts: that they are looking forward to the day when they’ll receive the Lord again: someone said to me: “Fr., I feel like my heart is starving.”

That is a good thing! We are made for God and only He can satisfy us. My heart is filled with great hope: that this time will renew our love for Jesus in the Eucharist.
My mother shared with me something about the beginnings of the Catholic faith in Nigeria. She said that they did not have Mass every Sunday. It was only once a month or longer. They all longed for the Sunday when they’ll receive the Lord again.

How privileged I am as a priest. How privilege we are as the people of the Eucharist to have the Lord in our hearts. Yes, it has been long since you received Him last but never forget that your heart is a Tabernacle where He dwells. Go within your heart, He is there. Love Him there and ask for the grace to love everyone you meet, to smile to those you meet on the street, to wave at people even if you don’t know them; to allow Jesus in your heart to love the people you meet every day beginning with family members.

As we pray for those who will be receiving First Holy Communion soon in our parish, it will be wonderful to ask: What was the day of my first Holy Communion like? What do I remember? Today, I was just thinking of something: My First Holy Communion after COVID-19, what will it be like? What surprise will Jesus give to me?

I look forward to that day when we shall celebrate together again.

St. Therese of Lisieux recounts her experience of her first Holy Communion:

I will not tell you everything, even if I could, for there are certain things which lose their fragrance in the open air, certain thoughts so intimate that they cannot be translated into earthy language without losing at once their deep and heavenly meaning. How lovely it was, that first kiss of Jesus in my heart – it was truly a kiss of love. I knew that I was loved and said: ‘I love You, and I give myself to You forever.’

A grandfather’s advise to his two little grandkids: “Always remember who you are.”

We are a people of the Eucharist. May this realization make us humble and loving. To love God’s world and everyone in God’s world including the unloved and the unlovable.

To be continued…

Your brother,

~ Fr. Obi