I begin this morning with a “Once
upon a time” story.
Once there was this little girl
who, at church one Sunday, heard the word, “love,” and wondered what love was.
But, one day, sick at home and
watching her mother take care of her, said to herself, “Oh, now I know what love is.”
But, a few years later at school,
when she discovered that boys aren’t all bad, she fell in love for the first time, and said to herself, “Oh, now
I know what love is.”
Years later, she found the man
whom she wanted to marry, and in the joy of her wedding day, said to herself, “Now I know what love is.”
A year or so later, as she held
her first baby in her arms, again she said, “Now I know what love is.
And so the years went on and she became a grandmother with many grandchildren, and as she was dying with her
husband and all her children and grandchildren gathered around her, her final thought was, “Now I know what love it.”
But, after death, when she came
into the presence of God, God smilingly said to her, “Now you know what love is!”
The truth of the story is that
we know what love is and we don’t know what love is.
We know love from our experience
and so our life journey is growing into love, which is another way of saying, “We grow into God,” because, St. John
reminds us in his first letter, “God is love.”
But since love is such an all
encompassing word, as vast at God himself, can we make it something more concrete in our own life? I suggest two aspects of love for our reflection today on the Feast of the Trinity and First Communion. The two aspects are first and fittingly, communion, and the second, compassion.
Communion and compassion.
By communion I mean bonds of relationship,
circles of relationships, harmony of relationships with God, oneself, family, friends, this community at SMA. Communion means being with, enjoying, and supporting one another.
It is an inner movement that keeps gathering us together into wholeness. I
see a sign of this communion at the sign of peace when this community in one great circle intermingles and embraces one another. Communion is the special work of the Holy Spirit.
Compassion is an outward movement
towards those in need. With compassion, this community opens its doors to the
hungry and crosses the street to the homeless at Barbara McInnis House. It reaches out into the neighborhood in peace, and
embraces the suffering of the world in its prayer of petitions. Our compassion
is rooted in the passion and compassion of Jesus who gave his life to heal us and asks us to continue his work of healing. I see a sign of this compassion in the announcements at the end of Mass when the community
is encouraged and urged to look outwards and make sacrifices. Just as we can
attribute communion to the working of the Holy Spirit, I link compassion with the saving work of Jesus.
Another way of saying this is: communion and compassion are the two hands or the two actions of our God who is love. That is why we speak of our one God as trinity.
This mystery is at the heart of our faith and spirituality. This what
we mean when we speak our greeting, “May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of
the Holy Spirit be with you.” We are acknowledging the grace, the compassion
of Jesus, the love of God, the fellowship, communion, of the Holy Spirit, and pledging ourselves as part of that mystery.
And this incomprehensible mystery
is brought together into the Eucharist which we call both communion and bread of life (bread for compassion).
First communicants, today, you
receive this precious gift for the first time.
Receive it with reverence.
Receive it as the sacrament of
Receive it often that you may
grow in the spirit of communion and in the mission of compassion.
And, like the little girl in our
story, may you experience more and more what love is and come to know more fully the source of all love, who is God.