With Arms Wide Open

It’s always an honour to serve as a Eucharistic minister, whether at an archdiocesan event or at my home parish of St. Paul’s in Richmond.  And it’s an added bonus when I get to share Jesus with my lovely wife Gail and our children.

Sean and Jacob are mature enough to realize that it’s all the same Jesus; it doesn’t matter who they go to receive Jesus at Mass…as long as they receive him!  But admittedly, I will try and serve on the side of the church where my family is sitting so they can come to me (if they want).

So there we were this past Sunday night at the 6:30pm Mass at St. Paul’s.  During the sign of peace, the 3 of us Eucharistic ministers went to wash our hands and do our usual assigning of spots.  On this week, I was serving with Mary and Kris, and I started off by saying:  “It doesn’t matter to me what side I’m on.”

“Doesn’t matter to me either,” replied Kris.

“Same here,” Mary answered.

“Well then, if I can, I’d love to serve on the left side of the church so I can give communion to my family…so middle or choir side would be great.”

“I’ll take the middle then,” said Kris, “and you can have choir.”

“Mary, are you okay with the far side?” I asked.

“Sure, no problem,” she answered and then we all made our way to the altar.

(So for anyone wondering…that’s what we’re talking about while washing our hands…haha).

After a few minutes, I saw Gail, Sean and Kayla approaching me (Jake had gone to Mass earlier in the day with a friend…from all accounts he stayed awake for the entire Mass).  Sean arrived first, so I gave communion to him.  I loved the way he was concentrating on receiving Jesus, similar to the way he did at his First Communion over 2 years ago.  Makes a daddy proud!

Next was Gail carrying Kayla (our 3 year-old tends to get lazy at the most convenient times) and I went to lay my hand atop Kayla’s head.  After blessing her, I went to give communion to Gail.  But as I reached into the ciboria, Kayla lunged towards me with her arms wide open.  She wrapped me up in a massive hug and then gave me a huge kiss on my cheek.  “I love you, Daddy!” she proclaimed, all while I was trying to get a host out for Gail.

“I love you too, sweetie” I replied as she finally gave me enough space to give communion to Gail.  I could barely suppress my joy as I caught them returning to their pew out of the corner of my eye.

During my prayer time after communion, I reflected on what had just happened and I was struck by how desperately Kayla wanted to show her affection for me, albeit while I was trying to distribute communion.  How she displayed innocence, child-like faith, and determination in expressing her love for her father.

This is exactly how we should approach God our loving Father and Jesus Christ His son.  In good times and tough times and everything in between, our goal should always be to grow closer to Him.  When we feel hopeless or beaten down, we can go to our Father for His love and comfort.  When we sin, we can lunge for God and His mercy and forgiveness.  And when things are going our way, we can strive to meet Him to thank Him for blessing us.  No matter the situation, when we approach God with our arms wide open we must have faith that He will be there to pick us up.

That’s what unconditional love is all about.