Today, I’m going to talk about
the last part of Mass—
from the Eucharistic Prayer, to the end.
To review: we believe Mass is a sacrifice.
Three things make a sacrifice:
First, something is offered.
In the Old Testament,
they brought the best lamb
and slaughtered it on the altar.
That’s a sacrifice.
Second, the sacrifice makes a covenant.
If you and I have a covenant,
I owe you, you owe me;
not a set amount,
but everything—it’s total.
You are faithful to me, and I to you;
not just for a day,
or a time, but forever!
That’s a covenant.
And third, those who make
do something to share it—
to be part of it,
and to obligate themselves
to the covenant:
So, after they burnt
part of the lamb on the altar;
the rest they shared as a sacrificial meal.
Doing that pledged them,
solemnly, to the covenant.
And that is called communion.
The second reading from Paul
connects this to marriage.
Do you realize, what we believe
about Jesus’ sacrifice and the Eucharist,
is what we believe about marriage:
Total, forever, nothing held back—and note:
it is consummated how? By communion!
So why are we surprised
that our Catholic Faith
has always taught that contraception—
barriers and pills—are gravely sinful,
because they ruin the communion
of a married couple?
How can there be communion with a barrier?
How can it truly be communion,
if an essential part is deliberately excluded?
That’s not total—that’s not communion!
When we hear the second reading
from Paul, we get distracted
by a “power” thing—men v. women.
If it’s about power,
that totally misses the point.
Marriage only works with surrender—
and it has to be both—
both husband and wife.
This is what Christ does for us:
God humbled himself to become man,
And further, he suffered and died—
everything for us.
In this covenant-sacrifice, Christ makes
the “new and everlasting covenant”
with his Father, for our sake:
we share in it by becoming one with Christ.
So spectators to this—don’t get a share;
There’s no “part time” sharing in this.
It’s all—or nothing at all.
You will see me lift Christ
to heaven and sing,
“Through him, with him, in him,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
all glory and honor is yours,
Almighty Father, forever and ever!”
That is an ecstatic moment:
Christ giving himself totally.
This is the climax—
and I chose that word deliberately.
A heard a story last week,
about a man who came to Mass
just after he got married.
He received communion,
and coming back to his place, he was crying.
He said: “I finally understand what it means!”
From there, the rest of the Mass flows logically.
In Christ, we pray “Our Father”—
In Christ, we have peace with each other.
Then comes the breaking
of the Lamb of God:
As we sing, “Lamb of God, who takes away
the sins of the world,”
Watch, as I will hold
the Lamb before you—
As his priest, and yours,
I will break his body—for you!
Then, we share the covenant-sacrifice.
And here’s where we answer
the big question: Why don’t we
invite everyone to communion?
Think about all we’ve just considered.
How can we?
This is a covenant-sacrifice—
Can we share it, without at least recognizing
that it is a covenant-sacrifice?
Sadly, for all we have in common,
most of our fellow Christians
do not recognize the Mass
as a true, covenant-sacrifice.
Until we can restore unity
on this central teaching of Christ—
we aren’t ready to share it.
Also, we saw that communion
is about full commitment.
Some folks, for whatever reason,
are not ready to make a full commitment
to the Catholic Church.
When they’re ready for that step,
we welcome them!
Then communion will make sense.
This challenges us who are Catholics.
Are we fully committed?
Do we hold back
from accepting all the Church teaches?
Do we hold back from living it?
Yes, it is costly.
How many ways does Jesus have to tell us:
You want to follow me, take up your cross?
That means: the price is everything.
In today’s Gospel,
some of his own followers left him,
because they couldn’t accept his teaching.
He didn’t gloss it over to draw them back.
The question is not,
what’s it cost, but what’s it worth?
Do we need Jesus? That’s the question.
Some don’t think so.
But if we do need Jesus,
here’s the deal.
It costs you everything:
give me your life; die to self!
But you will gain everything:
The Holy Spirit; forgiveness of sins;
conversion of heart; integrity of life;
hope and meaning, especially in suffering;
something truly worth dying for;
and a future to live for:
We are truly united with God—
and live forever
to the praise of his Glory!
Easy or hard, with Peter, we say:
“Master, to whom shall we go?
You have the words of eternal life.”
And to that leap of faith, He responds:
“Whoever eats my flesh,
and drinks my blood
remains in me, and I in him—
and has eternal life.”