Opening Question: What was the best birthday party you have ever gone to? Why was it special? Why do we have birthday parties?
First Reading: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
I have already told you what the Lord Jesus did on the night he was betrayed. And it came from the Lord himself.
He took some bread in his hands. Then after he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is given for you. Eat this and remember me."
After the meal, Jesus took a cup of wine in his hands and said, "This is my blood, and with it God makes his new agreement with you. Drink this and remember me." The Lord meant that when you eat this bread and drink from this cup, you tell about his death until he comes.
Everyone in Sally's family was excited. Today was Grandma's birthday. It was a special day because Grandma was a special lady. Ask anyone about Grandma and you got the same answer: "She's the nicest person you'll ever meet."
At the birthday party, Sally's Uncle George stood up and addressed the family. "Today we celebrate Grandma's birthday. We don't remember the day she was born, because none of us were alive then. But because she's here, we are here. We are a living memory of her birth." Then Uncle George turned to Grandma and said: "Grandma, thank you for being born!"
Birthday parties are special. We remember the birth of a brother or sister, a mom or dad, a close friend or next-door neighbor. But we do not remember their birth in our heads. We remember it with a celebration. We gather everyone together, give gifts, sing songs, and eat special foods. These people are special to us, and we want them to know it.
When Jesus says, "Remember me" in today's reading, he wants us to celebrate. Like a birthday, we gather together, sing songs, and eat special foods: bread and wine. And, like a birthday, we celebrate the new birth of a person who is with us. The person is Jesus. The new birth is his resurrection from the dead.
When we receive Communion, we receive the risen Jesus. He is with us because he is inside us. This is our way of remembering Jesus.
Bridging Question: When is it hard to make a choice? How hard is it to stick to your choice?
Gospel: John 6:51-58
Jesus said the crowd:
"I AM the living bread which has come down from heaven. If someone eats this bread, he will live forever. My flesh is the bread I will give, so everyone in the world might live."
Then, within the crowd, the people complained, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"
"Listen!" Jesus replied. "If you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life in you. The person who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life. And I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is the only food that's important. My blood is the only drink that's important. The person who eats my flesh and drinks my blood stays in me. And I will stay in him."
The living Father sent me. And I live because of the Father. So, the person who eats my flesh will also live because of me. This bread that came down from heaven is not like the manna your ancestors ate. They died. But, the person who eats this bread will live forever."
Donny's birthday would soon arrive and that excited everyone. Everyone except Donny. "What do you want for your birthday?" his mom asked.
"I don't care," Donny sighed.
"Would you like space decorations for your party?" his dad inquired.
"Sure...whatever," Donny resigned.
"Who would you like to invite to your party?" his sister asked.
"Whoever you want," Donny responded.
"I don't care...whatever...whoever..." is all his family heard. Donny's attitude drove his family crazy. Why were they even trying to make his day special?
This wasn't like Donny, at all. Donny worked hard at school and at sports. Donny stuck to his convictions, even when he was losing the argument. Donny pushed and pulled to get his way, especially when he knew he was right. Now, with his birthday approaching, the fireball Donny turned into a mush ball. Why?
Donny's dad decided to take Donny aside and talk to him. "You're not acting yourself," his dad said. "Usually, you're way ahead of us on things you want to do. But now you don't care. What's going on, Donny?"
"Dad," Donny replied, "my birthday is just not that big of a deal."
"It is to us!" Donny's dad shot back. "Donny, you're important to us. The choices you make are important to us. Your birthday is important to us. We care about you and your birthday. We want you to care, too."
"Okay, Dad," Donny said. For that point on, Donny tried to help his family. He made decisions about his birthday and stuck to them. He even got into an argument with his sister about who would come to his party! Donny's family didn't like the fighting, but they sure liked the old Donny back.
Donny didn't care unlike his father talked to him. Then he cared and stuck to his decision to care. Making a decision and sticking to it is called commitment. Donny made a commitment to his family. He made a decision and stuck to it.
Sometimes we do things like we don't care about them. But we should care. When we pray we should know we are talking to God, because we care about God. When we receive Communion, we should know we are eating the body and blood of Christ, because we care about him. Jesus offers himself to us, but he wants us to make a commitment to him in Communion.
So, when we go to Communion, let's not just receive the bread and wine because everyone else does it. No, let's make a decision to be close to Jesus and stick to that decision. After all, he make a decision to be with us. And he has always stuck to his decision! We know he chose us every time we receive him at Communion.
Closing Question: How can we stick to our decision to be close to Jesus?