By Larry Peterson
Easter Sunday is fast approaching. That glorious day is the focal point of our faith. It is the day that all of us who have followed the Christmas Star have been preparing for. The day of our passing is our personal Easter. It has been promised to us if we lived as asked. On that day, it will not be the morning sun blinding us. We will be looking into a light brighter than the sun, and we will not squint or turn away. The light will be the Risen Christ as He welcomes us home. But we must always remember there can be no Resurrection without the Cross. We all must experience them both.
Lenten Mass Readings—A definite purpose
The Lenten readings for Mass on March 4 seem to sum up where our earthly life is taking us. As God’s children, we all make our choices. Some will take one path and some another. The first reading is from Jeremiah 17:5-10 (these are partial) “Thus says the Lord, cursed is the man who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose heart turns away from the Lord—
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is the Lord, He is like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches out its roots to the stream–its leaves stay green–
I, the Lord, alone probe the mind and test the heart, To reward everyone according to his ways, according to the merits of his deeds.
These words are followed by the Responsorial Psalm; “Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.”
Next is the Gospel. It is from Luke 16:19-31. This is the Gospel that tells the story of the rich man who sits at his table dressed in the finest clothes and eating the best food. Lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, who would have gladly eaten the scraps that fell from the man’s table. He was such a mess that dogs came to him to lick his sores.
When the poor man died, he was taken into the bosom of Abraham. Not because he was poor but because he was kind. When the rich man died, he was not allowed into that place. He begs Abraham to allow Lazarus to dip his finger in some water to touch his parched tongue. His request is denied, and then he asks if he could allow his family to be told how things are? Abraham tells him, “if they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.”
That Mass and those readings were used precisely thirty days before Easter Sunday, which is April 4. This sets the table for the remainder of our Lenten Journey. There are thirty Collects, Epistles, Psalm readings, and Gospels between those two days. They all take us to Easter Sunday. And what is the most profound and deeply mystical thing that takes place as we complete our Lenten journey? Is it not the Last Supper?
Imagining the Last Supper
Have you ever imagined how the Last Supper was? These were thirteen men traveling around Galilee, sleeping under trees or in caves or wherever they may have been invited to stay. There were no showers or laundromats, so they must have smelled pretty bad. Now they all gather in a second-floor room in a building with no amenities to have a Passover dinner. It must have been something. And where did they cook the lamb?
None of that is important. What is important, what is profound, what is mystical and miraculous is what really happened at this Passover celebration. This is the moment in time, a moment carved into eternity, that Jesus Christ, the God-Man, gives us the Holy Eucharist. How? He is God and He takes on the role of the first Priest. He gives us the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Sacrament of Holy Orders. We, His people, have hit the Heavenly Trifecta. The Mass, The Holy Eucharist, and the Sacrament of Holy Orders all initiated at the same time, in the same place—in perpetuity—-forever.
Something deeply spiritual happens during the Catholic Mass that even many Catholics do not understand. The Mass commemorates the night when Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist giving us His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity forever. He did this within the framework of what we call the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
We must have the Mass to have the Eucharist. They are inseparable for it is within the Mass that the ordained Catholic priest can consecrate simple bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. Make no mistake, my friends, this is not a “remembrance” or a “memorial” or a “tribute.” It is the unbloody sacrifice of the Cross being offered again and again and again to God the Father for all of us, for all time, in perpetuity.
The True Presence
Our Catholic faith teaches us that Christ is TRULY PRESENT on the altar at Mass. These words are from the Roman canon: “we, your servants and your holy people, offer to your glorious majesty from the gifts that you have given us, this pure victim, this holy victim, this spotless victim, the holy bread of eternal life and the Chalice of everlasting salvation”. Christ is with us, and we, the people, are offering Him to God the Father. Our reward is the Risen Christ given back to us in The Eucharist by our Father in heaven. This is The Mystery of Faith , and this is what we believe. I know this is what I believe.
The meaning of this is beyond the pale. It transcends human comprehension. For this was when yesterday became today and tomorrow became yesterday. The Mass enables us to briefly step into eternity and to take a peek at the life within the Holy Trinity and the love being shared inside it. This Holy Sacrifice is being offered somewhere on planet Earth every day, around the clock. Imagine that, somewhere, every day, around the clock. It is the most beautiful thing this side of heaven. (Even during the pandemic, priests are offering Mass every day, all around the world, even if they were alone without laity in attendance).
I wrote this many years ago and I would like to share it with you.
By Larry Peterson
Every minute somewhere
Upon this Earth
Amid chaos and pain
Shadowed by greed and pride
While within so many
Silent screams resonate
And fade unheard
Yet each minute
A constant Light
Always there for us to share
That tells us why
And will let us understand
If we choose to see
this splendid Oblation
A perfect purity
This gift called The Mass
Somewhere each minute
For us to share
The Answer there
The Perfect Love
The focus of life’s journey is preparation for our transition to and participation in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. When our Easter morning arrives, and we sing out, “Alleluia, Alleluia! Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again,” that is what will happen. Eternal life with the Risen Christ becomes ours. All we have to do is follow Him. If you do not know how or where to start, The Answer you are looking for is right here, in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.