January 18, 2013
1st Saturday of Ordinary Time
1 Sam 9:1-4, 17-19; 10:1 Psalm: 21:2-3, 4-5, 6-7; Mk 2:13-17
What did we come to Church for? To sing Psalms? To listen to the readings of Scripture? To listen to a homily? But what did we come to Church for? To watch the gifts being offered? To watch the host being elevated by the priest? To warmly greet our fellow worshipers? To share a banquet with them? Yes, yes indeed, but much more than all this, for something is lacking in this enumeration, that should give all these things their meaning and supernatural force. Indeed without that something all the rest would not help us at all, for we would still be in our sins, with no way out.
What am I speaking about? The sacrifice of Christ. This is what makes the Mass
the Mass, the most sublime act of religion that has ever been accomplished. We know
that we are redeemed and saved by the power of Christ’s death and resurrection.
Now the Sacrifice of the Mass is the same as the sacrifice Jesus accomplished on Mt.
Calvary. Christ himself is both priest and victim, but we are not present as mere
spectators participating only in the more superficial acts of the Mass. No, not at all.
Here is the all important fact: as baptized members of his body we share in his priesthood. It is not only the priest who offers the Mass with Christ. The members of the
congregation are also priests who share in the royal priesthood of the laity. Christ offers
himself to the Father and we also should offer him in that act.
Is that all? By no means. Christ is not only the priest, but the victim who died for us
and our salvation. When we rightly offer the Mass in union with Christ and the officiating priest, we too become victims. We are offering and we are offered and that is a very awesome thing indeed.
When a sacrifice is made, something valuable is set aside for God. As an act of
religion it goes back to the beginnings of the human race. We see Cain and Abel, sons of Adam and Eve, offering sacrifices to God. Note that Abel’s sacrifice pleased God, but
Cain’s did not. Why? Because a sacrifice is a sign of an interior disposition by which we
acknowledge our complete dependence on God and our utter nothingness before him.
Hence a victim is often destroyed, as in a holocaust, to more perfectly signify this interior disposition.
This raises an important question: what is our disposition when we come to Mass?
Do we offer the whole of our lives to God in union with Christ, or do we mark off a few
areas with a sign reading: “Do not enter. Reserved for self alone?” I suspect that all of
us, without realizing it perhaps, have such areas.
If we Catholics would come to Mass with an ardent desire to be totally united with
Christ in the sacrifice he offers to the Father, if after receiving him in the Holy Eucharist
we would live by the strength of this food, then the Church would truly be a city set on a
mountain top which could not be hidden, it would be the salt of the earth and we ourselves would come to enjoy the peace that surpasses all understanding, the fruit of the love that is poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given to us.