One of the events I enjoyed most as a parish priest was First Communion liturgies. I always preached vigorously on the awesome wonder of Christ being our Food from heaven, fulfilling our deepest longings.
Each year our parish provided each family with a video of the First Communion Mass. One year, the music that the company we hired placed on the video was “The Greatest Love of All.” It played as scenes of each of the children and their families were shown.
The lyrics of the song are as follows:
I believe the children are our are future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children's laughter remind us how we used to be
Everybody searching for a hero
People need someone to look up to
I never found anyone to fulfill my needs
A lonely place to be
So I learned to depend on me
I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone's shadows
If I fail, if I succeed
At least I live as I believe
No matter what they take from me
They can't take away my dignity
Because the greatest love of all
Is happening to me
I found the greatest love of all
Inside of me
The greatest love of all
Is easy to achieve
Learning to love yourself
It is the greatest love of all
The song is a beautiful song, and there’s much in it to agree with. We have to foster healthy self-esteem in the hearts and minds of our children, because we know the evils that result when children lack a sense of their own dignity.
But I felt compelled, after the video came out, to point out in a Sunday homily that there are some key ways in which the song contradicts what we believe. For saying this, I was severely criticized by some of the parishioners. But you be the judge.
“I never found anyone to fulfill my needs…So I learned to depend on me.” This is being sung as backdrop to a video in which the children receive the One who fulfills all our needs, the One on whom alone we are to depend and who is totally dependable.
“I decided long ago never to walk in anyone’s shadows.” But Communion is about union with Jesus, about walking in his shadow, in his light, in his will and in his truth.
“At least I live as I believe.” Communion is about living as Christ teaches. Our beliefs are to conform to his teachings.
“Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.” No, it’s not. Learning to love the Lord is the greatest love of all, a love by which we sacrifice ourselves and give ourselves away for others – just as Jesus does in the Eucharist.
It’s OK to like the song. But let’s at least be aware of what is and isn’t our Faith.