Third in a 3 part series on God and Mankind
In two days, we have gone through creation history, and most of salvation history, the life of Christ and the beginnings of Christianity. All in two days??!!??… This is obviously nowhere near enough time to address the beauty and wonder of that time frame. But this is not an historical account. It is attempting to join the Goodness of God with ourselves.
Yesterday, we left off with the Apostles teaching and living the Good News of Jesus. The day before He was to be crucified, Jesus did something very astonishing. He instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist. At the Last Supper with His Apostles, He took bread, broke it and gave it to His Apostles saying, “Take this all of you and eat it. For this is my Body”. And again, with the cup, He offered them the wine and said, “Take this all of you and drink from it, for this is the Blood of the new covenant. Do this in memory of Me.” Jesus was telling His Apostles and us, that the old ways were gone. Sacrifices to God by killing a lamb, or even of offering bread and wine, were no longer valid ways. A new covenant was being established. Jesus, by His life and death, would be the new lamb that is offered. Any sacrificial reference to bread and wine would be to His Body and Blood. From that time on, this is what would now be sacrificed by the priest at the altar, the Body and Blood of Jesus. For Jesus, the Son of God, the Word made Flesh, would be the sacrifice that would be offered from then on to His Father in heaven.
Look at the purpose of this sacrifice that He would make on the cross. He was redeeming ALL of mankind that ever lived or would live. He was making amends for mankind’s pleasuring lifestyles, the affronts against God, the attacks on our fellow man, our brother. All were being bought back, redeemed, so that man could once again hope. He did not say to His apostles, “This is a symbol of my Body”, nor ”This wine will be like the Blood of the new covenant”. No, only He could satisfy the debt owed to His Father. This is MY Body. Anything less, and we, (you and I) the peoples who would come after Him, would have had only a symbol to adore, to kneel before, to accept as our Redeemer. If this were a symbol, then His infinite action would take on a temporal role.
Jesus is with us, today, just as He was 2,000 years ago. Yes, we can still pray to Him and silently express our problems and concerns. We can sit in a darkened room and pray to an unseen God. But that wasn’t sufficient for Him. He left us His Body and Blood to be with us, as well. His love transcends life itself. It transcends time. There are no limits to His love, or to its presence in our life. We receive Him in Communion and spend a precious moment with Him. We tell Him of our sorrows, our concerns, and our love. He listens to us as a brother, and comforts, guides and consoles us through our own thoughts. WE are aware of Him, His love and at one and the same time feel uplifted and so tragically embarrassed. We find it difficult to forgive ourselves. But He has already forgiven us. Seven times seven…Seven was a mystical number, back in those times. It correlated to our infinity symbol. Infinity times infinity… now… that’s a lot of forgiveness. Each day at Mass, the priest offers Jesus’ sacrifice of Himself, now under the appearances of bread and wine, once again to His heavenly Father. Infinity times infinity!
Let me take this one step further, before this post ends. At Mass, we hear some scriptural readings, on which the theme of that day’s Mass rests. A homily (sermon) is given that is based on those readings. Then we have the Offertory. (This is commonly, but rather mistakenly, called the collection.) Briefly, the Offertory is when those things that have significance to us, in our life, are placed before God. An act of kindness, time spent with the sick, our pains or anguish, our joys and sorrows, in short, everything that makes us…US. Each of us place our lives on that dish on which the wafer of bread rests. The priest, later on but before the Consecration, says while holding the dish elevated, “Pray, friends, that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father.” And the people reply,
“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 Church.”
Everyone in the church, everyone is offering their life to be merged into the life of Christ, in that piece of bread. The Church (capital C) is not a building, but rather it is all of mankind who strives to bring Christ to the world. In offering our lives on that dish, we are asking Jesus to make us acceptable, to bring us also, to the Father. The Church is on that dish. When the priest says those all-important words of Christ, “This is my Body”, and again, “This is my Blood”, our very lives on that dish are transformed into something worthy of offering to our Father , but only because we are coupled with Jesus. It is, at one and the same time, our expression of love, of sorrow, of joy, of reverence, and of hope. Earlier we spoke of Faith as being the leap necessary to see Jesus in that consecrated Bread. Without faith, people will see the bread as just that, bread. But seeing and believing in the life of Jesus, seeing His love for mankind, His desire for us to be with Him, His desire for us to be Him and imitate Him, then we know He craves to be with us. And so, at that Supper, His Last, He gave all who weren’t present, the joy, the opportunity to be joined with Him just as the Apostles of that time were. He desires for us to “Be Him”. We are to Be Him in how we take care of others, how we strive to radiate the goodness of the Christ. We cannot do this by ourselves. But with Him, physically and spiritually with Him, we can do anything. Faith, true faith, can move mountains.
We have now come full circle. God created mankind. But mankind has, and continues to walk away. With the Crucifixion, Jesus has redeemed us. He has given mankind the promise that He will be with us forever. The infinite love of God surrounds us. We strive to live the life that Jesus has laid out for us. We strive to, ultimately, be re-joined with God, our Creator. This is why you and I have been created. We can fulfill that purpose, only by living the life of Jesus, accepting Him into our heart and soul. For without Him, we can do nothing. But through, with and in Him we can give glory to God and be re-united with Him. We do this by living the life of Jesus, accepting Him into our heart and soul. Without Jesus, we can do nothing, But with Him, we can move mountains.
Pray, always, for the gift of faith. For that is what it is, a gift. It cannot be gained through logic. It cannot be intuitively understood. It can only be thankfully accepted.
It is appropriate to end with words of St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta:
“When you look at a crucifix you understand how much Jesus loved you. When you look at the Sacred Host you understand how much Jesus loves you NOW”.”
The 6 Posts directly below, blend with this theme. They continue the thought. Thanks for coming:
1) Help My Unbelief
2) Our Intentions
3) Be the One
4) Embrace Life: Embrace God
5) God: Faith or Logic
6) God and Man part 2