We don't just come to Mass to remember who Jesus was in the distant past; we rekindle who Jesus is for us, right here in the midst of our present struggles.
For many of us, going to Mass can feel pretty different from the rest of our lives. But that doesn’t mean that the two have nothing to do with each other. Quite the contrary: Mass is the celebration of Jesus’ death and Resurrection precisely in the context of our own experiences of death and Resurrection.
We don’t just come to Mass to remember who Jesus was in the distant past; we rekindle who Jesus is for us, right here in the midst of our present struggles.
There is a prayer right in the middle of Mass where we have a special opportunity to connect the mystery of Jesus’ death and Resurrection with our own experiences of death and Resurrection.
After the preparation of the gifts at the altar, the priest says: ”Pray, brethren, that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father.” Note the surprising words “My sacrifice and yours.” That means that you bring a sacrifice to every Mass! The sacrifice is not just the bread and wine brought to the altar: It is also the spiritual sacrifice of our very selves!
When you respond, you say the words, “May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands, for the praise and glory of his name, for our good and the good of all his holy Church.”
As those words pass your lips, I encourage you to think of some specific “sacrifice,” some concrete, challenging experience that you bring to Mass that day. Maybe you are suffering from an illness. Maybe there is strife in your family. Maybe you or someone you love struggles with an addiction. These burdens, real and unresolved as they are, are what you bring to every Mass, in addition to the physical gifts of bread and wine.
By specifically recollecting these “sacrifices” and offering them to Jesus, we call to mind that, just as Jesus shares in our little experiences of “death” — he experienced the effects of suffering, conflict, and human weakness — so, too, does he share with us the experience of “resurrection” — healing, reconciliation, and newfound strength, even in the midst of weakness.
Every Mass, we refresh our memory of his fidelity to us in our lives. By recollecting our “sacrifice” in that little prayer, we rekindle hope that he will continue to be faithful to us here and now.
This is part of the series called “The Human Being Fully Alive” found here.