Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Mass forms His People in Christ's Righteousness (Sunday homily)

In the first reading, God says,
“I put water in the desert for my chosen people to drink…”

We seek this Water, above all, at Sunday Mass together.
We come together as His People.
Sunday Mass is the non-negotiable center
of being a Catholic.

That’s why I encourage bringing the whole family.
I don’t understand why we have Catholic families
sending their children to a Catholic school,
but not bringing their children to Mass on Sunday!

Isaiah gave his prophecy so that God’s People
wouldn’t get too comfortable in Babylon.

Centuries before, when they came out of Egypt,
several times they looked back, and said,
“we liked it better back there, in slavery!”

There are always plenty of Babylons and Egypts
to draw us away from being part of God’s People.
Sunday Mass helps keep us on track.

Notice the reading talked about God forming his people.
As much as we want Mass to be pleasing,
it’s far more important that it be life-giving.
And we are not the best judges of that!
God gave his People Manna in the desert—
do you know why they called it “Manna”?
The word means, “what is this?”—
they didn’t know what it was!
They didn’t always like it—yet it was what they needed.

Now, about the Mass.
It’s true that there has been
a lot of upheaval in recent years.
All that is confusing for everyone, including priests!
But notice, what the Church has gone through,
is what society at large has gone through?

Somewhere along the line, someone, like Isaiah,
has to call us back to our identity, as God’s People.

So, as far as the Mass goes, our bishops and pope
have, in recent years, given us more direction.

So, about 10 days ago, Pope Benedict issued a letter
on the Eucharist and the Mass.
If you didn’t see much about it,
that’s because the Media wanted a political angle,
and they missed the boat!

Our pope is calling us to a fundamental rethinking
about the Mass, to recognize what it truly is.
He didn’t re-write everything;
rather, he is calling us to remember some things
we may have forgotten;
such as our own, Catholic Tradition.

In the weeks ahead, I’ll have some evening discussions
when we can study what the pope said.

In the second reading, St. Paul said,
“I consider everything as a loss
because of the supreme good
of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”

To be a Christian is no longer
to claim our own righteousness—
that goes in the garbage!
Rather, we come as beggars to be transformed
by the righteousness of Christ!

Without that mindset, we cannot understand the Mass—
because we can’t understand the Christian Faith!

What happens at the climax of the Mass
is the heart of our Faith, as we’ll proclaim in a moment:
“Dying, you destroyed our death;
Rising, you restored our life: Lord Jesus, come in glory!”
So, at Mass, we join ourselves to His Offering.
When the bread and wine come forward,
put yourself on the plate and in the cup, to be changed.

The transubstantiation on the altar
happens in an instant;
the change in us takes our whole lives long.
That’s our share of the Cross.

In the Gospel, what the Lord did was shocking.
The woman committed a grave sin.
The pharisees’ actions were detestable;
and Our Lord—as if with a wave of his hand—
wipes it all away.

It isn’t just the Pharisees who say, “It isn’t that simple!”
We say the same. And that is true.

It seems so easy because he will die for this woman—
and her partner—and the pharisees!—and for us!

And the “price” you and I pay is to embrace his Cross!
Instead of dying—eternally—for our own sins,
we embrace His death in our lives.

We accept that in baptism.
We renew it in confession.
By the way: remember our Penance Service this week!
This is what confronts us when we come to Mass.

Christ renews his Sacrifice—
once on the Cross, now on this altar—
and we are confronted as the woman,
and the pharisees were:

Will we claim our own righteousness?
Or, accept his? That means we let him
make us part of him, which means we die with him?

The Mass confronts us with this mystery,
and that’s why we need it every week!

And the Eucharist, his Body and Blood, is shown to us…
If we come forward and say “Amen!”…
this “package deal” is what we say “yes” to.
To be His People, and no longer our own.


Jackie said...

Dear Fr. Martin,

I love this homily. You pull it all together - the Mass, communion in Christ, suffering as He did, thinking less of ourselves and more of Him and therefore, others.

In a phrase, I want Christ and His Church to change me and not the other way around.

Thanks for what you do and for continuing to post your thoughts and homilies on the blog.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful homily. The only quibble is "I don't understand why people send their kids to Catholic school & don't take them to Mass." That's what ended up happening in our fam growing up &, to tell you the truth, I'm grateful because, as it turned out, school was my only link to sanity for awhile. Seems like its better that than nothing.