Readings: Joshua 24: 1-2a, 15-17, 18b; Psalm 34, R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.; Ephesians 5:21-32; Gospel—John 6: 60-69
Today we have the final installment from the Discourse on the Bread of Life. Here we see the theme of the paradigm shift we have reflected on for two previous Sundays, reaching its climax.
As the narrative goes, “Many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.” (John 6:66)
This then leads to the moving and all important exchange between the Lord and his 12 apostles as represented by Peter.
“Jesus then said to the Twelve, ‘Do you also want to leave?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.’” (John 6: 67-69)
This, I propose for our reflection, is the grace of the Mass. At every Mass we reaffirm the message and invitation of Jesus to a radical reorientation of our life—a paradigm shift, a pivot point that makes Jesus and the mystery and grace of the Paschal Mystery the center of our life.
I have always advocated devotion to the Mass over compliance. While compliance is not bad, devotion is surely much better.
Devotion gives us the personal and intimate relationship with Jesus, whose Paschal Mystery we remember and celebrate at every Mass. Most certainly a much deeper and more powerful grace than seeing Mass attendance as a fulfillment of “Sunday obligation.”
It also helps us appreciate more or put in context the rituals and their meaning, thus avoiding the “trap” of being overly ritualistic and getting too caught up in the minute details.
Center of celebration
The authentic devotion to Jesus is what opens us to emulate him, living the pattern of his Paschal Mystery in our day-to-day life.
This lies at the center of the celebration, where Jesus tells us to “do this in memory of me.”
To do what he did—take hold of his life, give thanks to his Father, “break” his life as an offering and give it to others in service—he took, gave thanks, broke and gave.
The devotion and emulation lead us to a life offered to love and to serve God and others in all things. A life lived in the pattern of the Cross and Resurrection, constantly renewing this grace in the day to day, at every celebration of the Mass.
Such is the grace offered and made available to us. We may respond to it by “leaving” or confessing our faith: “to whom shall we go . . . we have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”
This is the powerful grace of the Mass, ever gently yet radically reorienting our life.
This we reaffirm in our witness with our life. As the celebrant invites us, “Let us proclaim the mystery of faith,” we respond with “Christ has died. Christ is Risen. Christ will come again.” This becomes the horizon of our life.
Then at the end, we are missioned. “Our celebration is ended. Let us go in peace to love and to serve the Lord and one another.”
It is a wonderful life. We bring faith to overcome fear. We bring hope to vanquish despair. We bring love to turn sorrow into joy, to bring healing in the midst of suffering and brokenness, to thwart evil with the goodness and the justice of God.
Our lives will never be the same again, as every Mass potentially transforms us, ever gently yet radically reorienting our life toward mission, sharing in the mission of Jesus to fill our world with God’s love. —CONTRIBUTED INQ