Having a Deeper Understanding of the Mass: Part 1

Imagine for a moment you’re at the airport. You know the scene, the hustle and the bustle, the announcements, the people saying hello and goodbye, the bags wheeling by you being tossed and turned here and there as people look for their friends. As we imagine this consider your closest friend (and I do hope you have one of those). You’re there at the airport and your best friend, the friend that you’ve grown up with and spent countless good times with is about to leave, they are about to move away and you know that you won’t see them for a very long time. As you grab a cup of coffee with your friend you promise to write and promise to call but deep down you know that you will not really BE with them for a long time. I think it’s safe to say that we all know a feeling like this in one way or another and with that feeling, perhaps that personal memory, we know that we feel sad, very sad. It can actually be one of the hardest things to do, to say goodbye and hope, deeply hope, that we will actually be able to see them someday. 

As you say goodbye to your friend they turn to you and you look at each other in that awkward moment and they hand you something. You look at it and wonder, it’s wrapped up in a plain wrapping. They look at you and say, “this is something of mine, I want you to have it and every time you look at it I want you to remember me. I’ll see you, goodbye.” With that they give you a hug and turn around to walk to the gate and you wonder, perhaps even through teary eyes- “will I see my friend again?” 

When your they handed you that package, when they gave you that thing that meant so much to them, that was a little piece of who they are, they gave it to you so you could remember them, so that you could somehow be united to them over the distance. Friends do that for us, they give us something to remember their friendship. It’s a way we can be united to them even though they are not there next to us. 

Well, Jesus Christ is our friend. Think about that for just a minute because it might be a thought that you have not really pondered too much. The Son of God, God himself, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, became a man so that he could make you a friend of God’s. We were separated from God, torn away from a friendship due to sin- a sin that you and I inherited the moment we were conceived because when we were conceived we inherited a human nature, a nature that was effected by original sin. He came to heal that wound and to offer himself in a way that no human being could offer themselves. He came to totally give himself to the Father- no holds barred- he totally gave Himself and when he did that he made it possible for us to give ourselves and for man to be friends with God, best friends in fact. 

Now, the Son of God came at a particular time in history and in a particular place and he knew that he would be limited by doing that and would not be able to walk out and meet every single person in history. So, right before he left He turned to the Apostles at that supper before his passion and death and said- “take this all of you and eat it, this is my Body which will be given up for you.” Our Lord could have given them (and us, through them) something that was near and dear to him, something that would help us to remember Him but he did even better- he gave us HIM. Knowing that he would suffer and die to save us and make amends for all sin He gave us the Eucharist. He gave us the gift of his very self. He gave us the Mass and said that when we do this He is there with us and we can consume Him. Imagine your friend at the airport saying to you, “I am not really leaving you, I am going away but I give you this and it is me and when you eat it I will live in you and you will live in me. I will NEVER leave you, I will always be with you and when you eat it you will experience our friendship and it will effect everything you do and you will never be alone again. I am closer to you through it then if I were standing right next to you” We would be blown away, we would not even know what to say. We might even doubt him or look at him like he was a little odd because it was just too incredible to imagine. Well, that is what Jesus did. He gave us the gift of himself and when we take and eat, when we “do this in memory” of Him we are brought back to that Last Supper, we are brought back to the foot of the Cross, we are brought back to that moment at the tomb when the stone rolled back and he stepped out and beat death and made heaven possible for us again. At the moment the bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, time is literally bent and we are brought back to that time and place. He gave us the Eucharist so that he can always be with us, changing us, living with us, loving us, journeying with us so that someday we can enter into heaven where we will never be away from him again.