Sometimes I meet people who might be called C.E.O. Christians. Would you like to know what this abbreviation means? Christmas, Easter and Occasionally. They have many good reasons (or maybe excuses?) for limiting their going to church. Luckily some of them are brave enough to admit they are bored when they attend mass. Frankly I can understand them perfectly! On a visible and verbal level mass is practically the same at all times. The only thing that changes (sometimes) is the sermon; but if there is just one priest in a parish inevitably he’ll become boring after several months even if he is the world champion in preaching (like Fr Colin). But this is just a visible and audible dimension of a Catholic mass.
Fortunately there is another, much more important level of mass. To discover this dimension let’s go back to tonight’s gospel, which is part of a long passage called The priestly prayer of Christ and is directly followed by his passion and death. That was a prayer of sacrifice, giving significance and the deepest meaning to the crucifixion. I’d like to read just a single sentence: “Holy Father, I pray not only for these, but for those also who through their words will believe in me”. Jesus died as a supreme, perfect sacrifice for each and every one of us. Thanks to that sacrifice God has made us his children.
At every mass we DON’T repeat that sacrifice, because Jesus made it once for all. What we do at every mass is like using a time machine and standing at the foot of the cross incorporating our needs into Jesus’ sacrifice. When we listen carefully to the Eucharistic prayer we will hear that the whole church intercedes for the needs of the whole world. This priestly prayer is followed and crowned by the so-called Great Acclamation: “Through him, with him, in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honour is yours, almighty Father, for ever and ever”. With these words, connected with the risen body and blood of Christ, we are offering a perfect sacrifice to God.
Catholic mass is being present at the Last Supper with Christ. On a spiritual level when we pray as a Church we are given grace as God’s children. As long as we are part of the community, Jesus is with us.