“I am the living bread.” How can we associate these words from our Lord Jesus Christ with the Sacred Liturgy we celebrate today? For starters we must understand that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is not merely a function but rather is a participation in an actual event that is ongoing. Every single celebration of the Mass is a manifestation of the Paschal Mystery, the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. If we look at the Mass as functional something we do out of habit you and I will get nothing from it. On the other hand, if we allow ourselves to completely enter into the mystery the more we begin to see our worship not as a function but rather an actual participation in an ongoing event.
This morning /evening I want you to put yourselves in the actual event. We stand as witnesses today as the Lord continues to offer His Body and Blood for our sake. Indeed my brothers and sisters what we receive is truly the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. How can we help place ourselves in the actual event? First we need to learn how to allow ourselves to enter into these mysteries at a deeper level. It must first begin with preparation, meaning from the beginning don’t rush in. Consider getting here five minutes early to pray and read over the scriptures. It is also possible to look over the scriptures at home for the Sunday and weekday readings are available online at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website. The readings are also in the pews at your fingertips. Utilize them! Then when the readings are proclaimed don’t read from the book but listen carefully as the readings are being proclaimed. Perhaps what you read over might not be what you take from it as it is proclaimed.
Also I would encourage everyone to mediate specifically on the very moment you physically receive Jesus Christ into your heart. Ask yourselves these questions, am I properly disposed to receive the Holy Eucharist? Am I free from mortal sin and spiritually in communion with our Lord (meaning we believe that we are actually receiving Jesus Himself and that we are in agreement with all His teachings expressed in the commandments and through His Church)? Then we need to ask ourselves how are we actually physically receiving Him? For the faithful who wish to receive Him in the hand the proper way of doing so is by taking both hands making a throne for the Lord who is our true king! Perhaps an individual may wish to receive our Eucharistic Lord in accordance with the norm of the Latin Rite which is on the tongue which has a special place in the Church because it represents externally our trust in the Lord.
As a side as we talk about appreciation and reverence towards the Blessed Sacrament I would recommend that everyone read this small book by His Excellency The Most Reverend Athanasius Schneider entitled Dominus Est, which is Latin for “It is the Lord.” Although the title of the book is in Latin the book is translated into English and it is a rather short profound read. I would strongly recommend this book for your spiritual enrichment especially to help you grow in appreciation for the Most Holy Eucharist. Having read the book myself one thing that stands out is the profound love and respect for our Lord Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.
Finally as I mentioned don’t rush in, everyone can guess what is coming next “don’t rush out.” Give the Lord some more of your time and thank Him. Think about this if someone were to come to your aide perhaps let’s say you were in an accident or lost everything to a fire or flood you would be forever grateful to those individuals who extended a helping hand. This man our Lord Jesus Christ died for each one of us for that we should be eternally grateful. At the garden of Gethsemane Jesus said to Peter, “So you could you not watch with me one hour?” Today our Lord poses the same exact question to us. If we can’t give the Lord one hour, perhaps on occasion a little more, then one should examine why they are really here. Now for those who leave early because they are sick that’s another story but you can’t tell me twenty or thirty people are sick all at the same time. The most likely scenario for those who leave early on a regular basis is that they want to be the first one out of the parking lot and the first ones in line to get breakfast/brunch/dinner depending on the time of day. Leaving immediately after receiving Holy Communion for personal convenience is extremely dangerous! Look what happened to the very first person who left the first celebration of the Mass. If you are worried about getting out to avoid a crazy parking lot after Mass consider spending five minutes with the Lord to give thanks to Him and I can assure when you leave their will be a miracle waiting for you…the parking lot will be clear. Miracles do happen for those who wait!
These are just a few suggestions one could consider to help each of us enter into these mysteries. Many times our hindrance from entering deeper into these mysteries is ourselves. With that listen to these words from John’s Gospel, “truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go.”
At the end of every Mass one word should stand out, the word “go.” Looking at the concluding rite of the Mass, not only does the Lord give us a commission He in fact leads us out into the world through the priest. At the beginning of Mass we should be waiting in anticipation for the Lord to enter thus the priest should normally be the last one in and at the end of Mass the first one out leading us into the world to fulfill our mission. There are many quiet examples in our liturgical celebration that conveys a meaning; however we need to be aware and open to it. Today the Spirit is asking us to abandon our comfort zone and jump into the mystery. For many people perhaps some of us live our faith only at the surface. We need to allow the Spirit not to just touch us at the surface but allow the Spirit to penetrate us to our very core. Don’t be afraid to enter into the mysteries! Jump right into them! May we today stretch out our hands and allow the Spirit to guide us perhaps into places in which we may not wish to go. Remember at every celebration of the Mass we are participating in a live event. Allow yourselves, to dive right in and experience the living mystery. Just do it and trust me…you won’t be disappointed!!!