Every parent has rites of passage that they are excited to see their child go through: their first steps, their first day of school, her first goal in soccer, his first home run. I cannot wait for my child's first Reconciliation and Holy Communion. The little suits, the nervous practicing of his prayers or readings, that proud look on his face after he received for the first time like an adult, making him feel like a true member of the Church.
Reconciliation is next on the list of sacraments, but Communion is the next sacrament of initiation a member of the Catholic Church receives after Baptism. The Catholic community celebrates the Lord's Supper every Sunday with the Eucharistic celebration that involves the consecration and consumption of bread and wine that has been transubstantiated into the Body and Blood of Christ.
Like a meal we share at home with our family, we are called to celebrate, remember, and eat as a family each Sunday at the Mass. We break the bread and share the cup, not only in remembrance, but in an honest celebration with our community! That is what makes the Eucharist another sacrament of initiation; it is an essential part of our Catholic community! When our newest members get to receive Communion for the first time, the excitement is not just in receiving Jesus for the first time (although that is the most important part!). It is also in the fact that they are now one step closer to being a full member of this community they have either been raised in or have chosen to join.
1 Corinthians, chapter 11 contains a section of instructions on the institution of the Eucharist for the community of Corinth. Take a moment today to read over 1 Corinthians 11:23-34 and reflect on what Paul is trying to teach. Are you attending this "meeting" with the right mindset? Examining yourself and consuming with true belief? Are you participating as a true believer and member of the Catholic community? And are you teaching and modeling these practices to those around you, so that my son and other future members of the Church will know how to follow Paul's instructions based off of our own behaviors! Try to make this Sunday more than a walk in line for a piece of bread, but a real celebration of Jesus' sacrifice and your membership in this community of believers!
Sunday's Gospel tells the parables of the good seed and the weeds. The Master refuses to tear out the weeds to protect the wheat growing among them. Luckily, we are not limited in the same way. By identifying and separating the weeds from the wheat in our lives, we can avoid being choked out or overgrown by them.
What is a weed? A weed is a person with a negative influence on your life. It is your neighbor you can't help but compete with, your frenemy, the coworker who you always end up drinking more than you planned with, the person who brings out your gossipy side, and so on. Weeding out those bad influences is rarely easy. Oftentimes, these people are friends or acquaintances that we enjoy spending time with.
How do we weed in our lives? By removing those that prevent us from getting closer to God. Friendships are not meant to be contentious; you don't have to remain friends with the girl from high school who you still feel the need to compete with. You can still work and get along with your drinking buddy, but step back from the socializing after work. Avoid opportunities to gossip, to compare; if it cause you to sin, cut it off. Think of how much more positive your life would be without the unnecessary, negative impacts week by week! Simply by choosing to remove those influences that really prevent you from walking closer with God.
But what about my good friends, who may sometimes do negative things? Pray for them. Ask God to help the two of you root your friendship more deeply in God's teachings so that you can support one another rather than bring each other down. Take time today to pray for the people in your life, good and bad, and ask for the strength to remove what needs to be removed and cultivate what deserves to be cultivated.