Boys and girls, as I mentioned before, I am so excited to have you here for your First Communion. This is a wonderful weekend for all of us. It is a wonderful weekend for me, personally, because at 11 a.m. this morning, I got to do my niece's First Communion. I get to be here with you and do your First Communion. I have my godson's First Communion tomorrow. So there are a lot of First Communions.
I am very excited because this will be the moment, for the first time, you get to receive Jesus into you. As we heard in the Gospel, He is the vine and you are the branches. This is how we stay close to Jesus. This is how we continue to have life in Jesus and to live by feeding on the Eucharist. When you receive the body and blood of Christ, that is how Jesus becomes one in you and you become the branches of the same vine.
I have always loved the movie "The Karate Kid" since I was a young child. I know they made a new "The Karate Kid" movie. I am a big fan of Ralph Macchio and the original "The Karate Kid" movie. One of the things I loved about the movie was Mr. Miyagi.
Mr. Miyagi, in the original "The Karate Kid" movie, used to work on bonsai trees. He always had these beautiful bonsai trees that he worked on.
When I grew up, I always wanted to have a bonsai tree. So when I became a priest, a parishioner at my last parish gave me one.
So can you bring it over? Be very careful when you bring over the bonsai tree.
Boys and girls, I am going to actually have you come up for a moment. Can all of you come up around me and the bonsai tree?
So this is it. This is my bonsai tree. Every once in a while you have to prune it. You need to take some of the bad leaves and cut them off. You keep the green ones. When you trim the bonsai tree, it grows more and more beautiful. You begin to shape it into a tree.
So who is good with scissors? Any of you want to cut some branches off here? I trust you. This is my very special bonsai tree. Here we go.
Now, these are the good ones, the green ones, and these dead ones are the ones you want to cut off. So why don't you cut off -- see this dead branch right here? Can you cut this branch off for me? Cut it right here. Watch my finger. You might have to go a little bit higher on the scissors. Got it. Go ahead. Grab that for me, okay.
Hold that up for everybody. Show them. That thing is pretty dead, isn't it? It's not growing back. It's not growing back at all.
Now, what if you took a live one? Sometimes you can do this with bonsai trees too. You can take a live one if you want to shape it, if it is getting a little bit out of control. So why don't we cut off this part right here? Cut it right here. That's good.
Now hold that. Can you hold this one for him? Hold it up for everyone.
What's going to happen to this? Anybody know?
Yeah. It's going to die, right? It's been cut off from the tree. That branch is going to die. So even though it was part of the tree at one point, once it is cut off, it is going to die.
Now, the tree for us is the Body of Christ. Jesus says, "I am the vine." So this tree is the Body of Christ. If we remain in Him, we have much life. If we stay with Him, we are going to keep growing and we are going to keep blossoming.
And He says in the beginning, "You've already been pruned."
Where is the dead one? The dead ones have already been taken away. The good news is you are not going to be taken away from Jesus. That is what happened in the Sacrament of Baptism. He has already promised you that you have already been pruned and you are not going to be taken away.
But sometimes He does have to do some pruning in our lives, right? So we grow when we receive the Eucharist, the body and blood of Christ. So actually, like the plant food that feeds us, and we continue to grow and flourish. You will notice, even on this tree, there are some dead spots on it. Sometimes we have to allow ourselves to be pruned.
Now, if you let a little kid prune the tree, sometimes you are going to cut things you don't want to cut. Like that, right?
No, I asked to you do that. Thank you.
But if you ask me to cut the tree, sometimes you are going to cut things you don't want to cut. But ultimately, the one that is supposed to do the pruning is God. If we allowed Jesus to do the pruning in our lives, He is going to cut the bad things out of our lives that are dead. He is going to allow us to flourish.
I think the first thing we have to realize is that first point: You have already been pruned. Since you were Baptised, you are never going to get cut from this tree. You are the branch on the tree.
Boys and girls, when you were Baptised, from that moment on, God made a covenant with you. He said, "You are mine and I will never lose you." "You are like that sheep. Even if you get lost, I am going to come and find you."
But there are things in our life that He needs to prune. There are sins in our life, or people in our life, or things in our life, that we are too attached to that are dying and causing death. He does need to prune and cut them away. But if we try to cut them away, that is not a good thing, right? We are going to mess it up. All we can do is let God cut it away. Let God prune the things in your life.
So I just want you to think about that as you receive communion, boys and girls. Today, you are going to be nourished and strengthened. You are going to blossom.
That is why you are all dressed up to look beautiful. You are going to look beautiful today. And along your life, as you grow and get older, God is going to need to cut things away from you. But He is never going to hurt you. He is never going to cut you away. He is just going to cut things away so that, ultimately, you can have that fullness of eternal life.
For the adults, I just want you to think about that. Is there any part of you, any relationships that you are in, anything that you are doing that needs to be pruned? We don't have to be afraid because God is not going to hurt us. He is not going to kill us. He does need to prune us and clean us up a little bit so we can have the fullness of life. This fullness of life, boys and girls, is what we are going to prepare you to receive in just a few moments.