Yesterday my oldest child, Joey, celebrated his first communion.
Down the aisle he walked, hands pressed together, looking very serious, while his father and I fought back our tears. Could he really understand at age seven, I wondered as I watched his procession, the magnitude of the gift he was about to receive? Of course not, because no human can, no matter his age.
The only way I can even begin to understand how much God loves us is through my role as a parent. Mothering as a whole is a sacrificial job. Every day, every hour, a mother gives of herself to her family. Sometimes the giving is joyful and voluntary, but often it is not. Many times my sacrifice is sour and impatient, given because I have no other choice, not because it is pleasing to God. Christ's sacrifice, on the other hand, is always voluntary and always loving. At every mass, He offers Himself again and again with love to those not worthy to receive Him. How can He do this? How great must His love be for us? For I can understand no greater love than that of a human mother who loves with the fullness of her heart and believes she would make any sacrifice at all for her family, yet is still imperfect in her service. What a small fraction this must be of the perfect love Christ has for us.
Joey will not, cannot, understand this until he is a parent himself. But for now, all he needs to know is that Jesus loves him, more perfectly and completely than even his earthly mother can. I pray the Eucharist will sustain him throughout his life and that he turns to Christ at the altar again and again. Because where I will fail him at times despite my best efforts, Jesus never will.