"Everything has been prepared for our participation in the celebration of Holy Mass."
The time we devote to the celebration of Holy Mass is not to make a simple act of presence – simply to fulfill an obligation – but should be our personal response to the invitation to participate actively in the celebration. This participation presupposes our openness of heart to the mystery that we celebrate.
Everything has been prepared for our participation in the celebration of Holy Mass. First, during the Liturgy of the Word, the readings are read from a page printed with the Word of God. That page, which began as a blank piece of paper, was transformed by "letting" itself be printed with the content and message of the Word that awaits being shared and proclaimed!
Second, the bread and wine – the fruit of man's labor – are presented in the offertory during the celebration of the Eucharist. The grain of wheat “allowed” itself to be ground and molded to take the shape of the host. The grape "allowed" all its juice to be extracted and processed to become wine.
That bread and wine, presented during the offertory, once more “allow” their transformation, no longer by the hands of man, but by the mystery of the consecration into the body and blood of Jesus, into a banquet of Love – into Jesus Christ sacramentally present.
Proclaimed to us at Holy Mass, the Word expects to be welcomed and listened to, not simply heard. Sacramental Jesus – that Bread and that Wine – expects to be received by an open and generous heart.
Pray, brethren, that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God, the Father Almighty [Liturgy of the Eucharist].
What does this sacrifice entail? A sacrifice is always an expression of love, carried out for the benefit of others. The Eucharist is a sacrifice – the gift of Jesus himself, through the proclamation of the Word and of his body and blood – for our benefit.
It is the Word that speaks to us, the bread that nourishes us, and the wine that makes us happy that are offered to us so that we, being part of the celebration of the mystery, may be transformed by the Word we hear and by the body and blood of Jesus, love, which we receive.
Just as the piece of paper “allowed” itself to be printed with the Good News, and the wheat and grapes “gave” their fruit to be presented and transformed, Eucharistically, Jesus, present in this mystery, needs hearts ready – allowing themselves – to be transformed into instruments of love and mercy.
What is the sacrifice that is asked of us? Participation, humility and trust to allow Jesus to change empty words and deaf ears – closed by hatred and envy – into words of hope and love and into ears that are willing to listen, thus, making room for the Good News of hope in the Resurrection.
Sacramental Jesus seeks to transform closed, wounded, dark, distrustful, and sinful hearts into open, joyful and healed hearts open to being embraced and to embrace those around.
We cannot turn our participation in the Holy Mass into a passive presence; this does not allow us to be touched by love. We cannot allow our own agenda to prevent Jesus from working in us.
The love of Jesus cannot be abused or made to fit our convenience. That love is Jesus, who wants – and seeks – that we experience, here and now, the love, the truth, and the joy of knowing that we are loved. That love finds the best in ourselves and opens us to share that treasure and be open to our neighbor’s treasure.
What an immense gift it is to be able to receive Jesus in the Eucharist! However, we have often let it pass by, or we have “gone through the motions” so often that we do not allow ourselves to be transformed into the truth of who we are.
The denial of the sacramental Jesus and our ignorance, arrogance and apparent self-sufficiency have caused us to construct false and selfish images of ourselves leaving no room for our true self or our neighbor. Where there is no place for love and truth, there is no place for Jesus!
Being humble and accepting our need for true love is what is required to allow ourselves – with our active participation in each Holy Mass – to become what we celebrate, love, and a reflection of who we celebrate, JESUS!