by Doug Lawrence
Celebrating Sunday Mass, I couldn’t help but notice that the priest (one that I had never seen before) closely resembled the late, wild and wacky, Saturday Night Live TV show comedian, Chris Farley.
Of course, I couldn’t wait to hear the homily, which I feared, might be based on one of the old, SNL “Matt Foley” sketches. “Matt” was a fictional SNL inspirational speaker, “the man who lived in a van, down by the river” who couldn’t seem to pull his own life together, let alone help others to do so.
Watch the SNL video clip on Hulu.
As things turned out, I had nothing to fear. Our young priest read masterfully from the Word of God, and delivered a powerful homily. Nothing at all was mentioned about a van … or a river.
The fact that my priest did not at first, appear too formidable was simply due to a genetic coincidence. Had he resembled a famous pope, bishop, theologian or evangelist, I probably would not be writing this.
The point is … once that young man donned his vestments, entered the sanctuary, and began to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, there was little doubt about who he was … and more importantly, precisely for whom he was standing in: Jesus Christ … our Lord and Savior … the one time, once for all, perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world … and the one who would … at the hands of that priest … according to the awesome power of the Holy Spirit … shortly become present for us … body, blood, soul and divinity … on the holy altar.
Reflecting on all of the above, I soon realized that God manages to transcend mere sinful humanity in many profound ways, none more important than the Mass and the Sacraments.
At Mass, thanks to Christ, we’re treated to an earthly preview of heavenly worship, where the ideal and the mundane routinely come together in divine perfection,
for the salvation of the world:
1) The Mass is the most basic and essential exercise in Christian unity. Every hour of every day, every day of every year, in virtually every country on earth, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is being offered up to God for the needs of the church, and the world.
2) The priest, properly consecrated, trained and suitably vested, is set apart by the church for holy service to God and to man. In this, his personal looks or his age mean nothing, since he “stands in” for none other than Jesus Christ, who is God. (This is also why the priestly abuse scandals hurt so much!)
3) Leading us through the various parts of the Mass, the priest helps to prepare our souls (which are hopefully, not in a state of mortal sin) for the imminent arrival of Jesus Christ, on the altar.
4) Soon, there is the consecration, where the King of Kings and Lord of Lords … Jesus Christ … our brother, High Priest, Heavenly Mediator, our Savior and our God, appears in our midst … not as an ethereal vision … but as true flesh and true blood … under the sacramental auspices of bread and wine.
5) Then, at the “Great Amen” we all solemnly offer Jesus, the only perfect and acceptable sacrifice, up to God the Father, for the sins of the whole world, and for the good of the whole Church.
6) Having faithfully “lined up” behind Jesus and claimed God as our Father, we are privileged to consume Jesus Christ as our heavenly food. Then, we are sent out to share our divine gifts with the world.
As I like to say …
it doesn’t get any better than that,
this side of heaven!
While it’s extremely difficult for us humans to give much more than lip service to God’s ideal, it’s just the opposite for God, since he has absolutely no problem taking a world filled with sin and corruption … much of it directly affecting the Catholic Church and the People of God … and by the power of his grace … perfectly accomplishing all that he originally intended for us, at the Last Supper and at Calvary.
Catholics believe all this to be true
because Jesus Christ personally declared it
in front of at least 12 eye-witnesses,
who later confirmed it
in the Holy Bible.
One last thing … Word has it that Jesus also has a little place, down by the river:
And he showed me a river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street thereof, and on both sides of the river, was the tree of life, bearing twelve fruits, yielding its fruits every month: the leaves of the tree for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no curse any more: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it. And his servants shall serve him. And they shall see his face: and his name shall be on their foreheads. And night shall be no more. And they shall not need the light of the lamp, nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God shall enlighten them. And they shall reign for ever and ever.
I hope to see all of you there. But for now, in this present age, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the next best thing. Don’t miss it, for the world!
A Short, Illustrated Presentation On the Mass