This past weekend, Jacob’s child-like faith reminded me as to how I should approach receiving Jesus every time I am at Mass.
Jake received his First Communion on February 26 and since that point had received communion from our 2 parish priests at Masses. This past Sunday, March 13, I was scheduled to serve as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion (Eucharistic Minister) at the 6:30pm Mass, meaning I had the chance to give communion to Jake for the first time.
Both Jake and I were looking forward to me sharing Jesus with him, but I warned him that if it didn’t work out for whatever reason, that it’s all the same Jesus: ultimately it didn’t matter if he went to me or someone else.
Jake nodded at me, confirming his understanding.
(As an aside, it’s always interesting to see the priest’s communion line is usually much longer than a “lay person’s” line…as if communion means more coming from a religious. But I digress).
That particular Sunday got off to a great start, as Jake told me in the morning that Sunday was his favourite day of the week.
“Why, Jake?” I asked.
“Because I get to have Jesus!” was his earnest response.
The day was also notable because it was my lovely wife Gail’s birthday, highlighted by lunch out and our weekly grocery shopping at Superstore.
The day went by quickly, and soon we found ourselves at St. Paul’s for Mass. Gail and the kids sat on the choir side while I met Pat and Charly, the other 2 Eucharistic Ministers before Mass in the church foyer. We quickly discussed who would serve from what position.
“I’m usually not that picky,” I stated, “but I would love to be able to give communion to Jake today. But both he and I know that it’s all the same Jesus!”
The 2 dudes chuckled a bit as we prepared ourselves for the procession.
The Sign of Peace was our signal to wash our hands at the side…and this is where we traditionally finalize our spots. Pat and Charly told me to take the middle-left, which would give me an opportunity to give communion to the family.
As I gave communion to the parishioners, I eagerly awaited Jake’s arrival at the altar. I did my best to concentrate on the people at-hand as I eyed my family approaching. Finally, it was Jake’s turn.
He stepped up to me with his small arms outstretched towards me, his hands resting one atop of the other as he was taught. He had a massive smile on his face, as if he had just received wonderful news. But most of all, he was almost running in place, his legs and feet dancing around…almost like he had to go the bathroom. He was THAT excited to receive Jesus in the Eucharist.
“The body of Christ, Jake” I said quietly as I shared Jesus with him. I was beaming with so much pride and joy that I could barely get the words out.
“AMEN!” Jake proclaimed.
Sean, Julie Ann, and Gail (with Kayla) were right behind Jacob in line, and I was just as happy to share Jesus with each of them. But make no mistake about it, I was deeply touched with how Jake received Jesus.
During my prayer time after communion, I reflected on what had just transpired. Jake’s cute and innocent actions in receiving communion had a humbling effect on me and challenged me to approach Eucharist in the same child-like manner: with wide-eyed curiosity, dangerous wonder, and simple faith.
We are called to be child-like (and not childish) in our faith. As adults, we often complicate things and we search for the “perfect” words or actions. For children, there are no “religiously-correct” words or phrases: children say what they mean and mean what they say. And like adults, their actions will often speak louder than their words.
That’s why I was so thankful for Jacob. His honest yet excited way of receiving Jesus in the Eucharist reminded me to never take things for granted, and to always hunger: