Monday, October 11, 2010

28th Sunday - homily

I’ve told you all before that I went to Mass every Sunday with my family growing up. Well, this past week in thinking about it, I remembered some Sundays with my brother that we, uh, went to “Church”. We did make it to the Church, but it was only to pick up a bulletin. We grabbed a bulletin and then went across the street to McDonald’s or a nearby basketball court for an hour. Oops. When we got home, I clearly displayed the bulletin to my parents. , I placed it on the table and then walked away, usually out of trouble. One time, my parents asked a follow-up question that I wasn’t ready for. “Who said the Mass?”, they inquired. “Um, it was, uh…you did see the bulletin, right?” Totally choked and totally busted.

Now, I’m not giving you all any ideas! You can’t do that anyway because there isn’t a McDonald’s or basketball court nearby. You all probably have a better understanding of the Sunday obligation than my brother and I did at that time. I didn’t know it was a mortal sin to skip Mass on Sundays. I really had no clue about mortal sin in general. In college, I fell in love with the Mass…through daily Mass. I realized that what happens at Mass is real, especially that the bread and wine really become the Body and Blood of Christ. It rocked my world! I learned about the beauty and richness of the Mass – how all of the things we do here have purpose and meaning and that the Mass has a tradition that goes back thousands of years, even to Jewish rituals. The Mass is awesome!

I would like to go through the parts of the Mass briefly here. In general, there are two main parts to the Mass: the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. We need to be here for both parts on Sunday to fulfill our obligation. If we arrive after the Gospel, then we have missed the Liturgy of the Word…we have missed Mass and need to go to another Mass.

There are specific parts of the Mass that we actually see found in today’s Gospel; it’s like Jesus celebrates Mass with the lepers. First, we hear that the “ten lepers met him”. They gathered to meet Jesus. This is what we do when we come to Mass. We gather with all of our own leprosies (sin) and problems. We come from all different locations and situations to be with the Lord. Right away, we acknowledge who we are in the presence of God: we are sinners. We say to the Lord in the Penitential Rite, “Lord, have mercy”, similar to the lepers saying, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” We confess that we have sinned – in our thoughts and in our words, in what we have done and in what we have failed to do – and ask the Lord for His Mercy.

Then, we have the Liturgy of the Word. The book that contains the readings is called the lectionary. The Sunday lectionary is on a three year cycle. So, we hear the same readings every three years. The Church, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, has put these readings together for a reason. The first reading is normally from the Old Testament, the second reading is usually a New Testament letter, and the third reading is always from one of the Gospels. We see connections or themes within the readings, especially with the first and third readings (the second reading is often a continuous reading that isn’t always related to the other two). When we hear the Word proclaimed to us, our job is to find at least one thing that God is saying to us today. Also, we should try to figure out the themes or connections in the readings.

The Liturgy of the Word to the lepers is very short. Jesus says to them, “Go show yourselves to the priests”. Some people wish that the Liturgy of the Word was this short normally; well, at least that the homily was this short. The homily is supposed to explain the readings and is the bridge between the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

We move on to the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The word Eucharist comes from the Greek word, eukaristeion (sp?) which means “thanksgiving”. We come every time to Mass primarily to give thanks to God for all His blessings. This is what one of the lepers does after he is healed. Only one of ten lepers comes back to thank God; only one of ten GW Catholics come to Mass each Sunday to give thanks to God. Our thanksgiving at Mass is the fulfillment of the Passover when the Jews gave thanks to God for all of His blessings. We do it in the context of a sacrifice, much like Naaman in the first reading. We are most thankful for Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross and for the gift of Himself in the Eucharist. The saints got it about the enormity of all that happens here; they would often stay around for a few minutes after Mass to make a prayer of thanksgiving. They thanked God for the incredible gift of the Mass!

Finally, the Mass ends with a “send”. We hear, “the Mass is ended, go in peace”. The leper hears from the Lord, “stand up and go”. That would be a different dismissal: “the Mass is ended. Go!” The send doesn’t just mean ‘it’s time for all of us to leave’. It means to that we are sent out as disciples of the Lord. We are sent to live and proclaim what we have heard and received here. We are sent to witness to the saving power of God that we have encountered here. Through the grace of the Eucharist, may each one of us live and proclaim the awesome gifts we have received here to all those we meet.


Anonymous said...

Daily Mass is awesome. Personally, it’s my favorite. I get a half hour of time to sit and be thankful and I still get the best part of Mass, the extra snazzy stuff held in the Eucharist. The Eucharist helps me make it through the day! If anyone reading this struggles with staying focused for the hour long Mass on Sunday as I do, give daily Mass a try. It’s short, to the point and less crowded. With fewer people around, I feel as if I can hear Christ’s voice a little easier; Mass becomes much more alive and personal.

Commit to a week or two and then sit back and reflect on how you feel when you leave and go back to the rat race. The only caution I have is that it can be addicting.

Liesl said...

I echo anonymous' feelings about daily Mass! I started going regularly about half a year ago and what a tremendous change I see in my life! My day no longer feels complete without going to daily Mass!

Great homily - too bad I had to miss it! I wasn't at McDonald's, but I was getting food... no worries though, I went to Mass that morning!

Matt Shoemaker said...

Great post FG! I echo your sentiments about falling in love with the Mass in college. I was just reading a book on the theology of the Mass and it was AWESOME! It was looking at the Mass primarily as a Divine Sacrifice which is the main inheritance we get from jewish worship. It talks about how the only way we can properly worship God is by providing a decent sacrifice to Him, which we do at the Consecration. It was so great and incredibly poetic. Liturgical theology rocks :)

PS i think they quoted Plutarch, c. 60 AD, in the book and he said that no matter which religion you examine they all have one thing in common- altars to offer sacrifice and priests to offer said sacrifice. - SWEET!

Anonymous said...

Apparently those who would be wicked need to plan a little better ;)