Dear friends. On this feast of Corpus Christi, I would like to offer a very brief tour through the mystery of the Mass. So let’s dive straight in.
The Mass is a time to gather. It brings people together. Here in St Aidan’s Cathedral, about 2,300 people used to come and gather as a family, as a community, before the lock down. This is still a remarkable number. Coming together is good. We belong to each other and to God. We are one family and God’s family.
We begin our prayer in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We are here to pray, to worship and to take part in the great act of self-offering with Christ to God our Father. We gather to pray at the end of the week and at the beginning of a new one. We bring to God all that has been and all that lies ahead for the weeks ending and beginning. The Mass is a pause on the journey, a time to look back in thanksgiving and a time to bless the journey ahead.
We ask forgiveness for our sins. We say ‘Lord have mercy’. We acknowledge our need for healing and for renewal. In the opening prayer, the great themes of the readings are anticipated. Then in the Liturgy of the Word, we listen to the great stories of the readings and the Gospel. Here is the Word of God that is alive and active. It shapes and inspires. We might not understand everything but there is always something that strikes us, that makes us think, that uplifts us, guides us, teaches us and corrects us if we are open to listen. In the homily, the priest helps us unpack the readings and leads us further into the Mass as an act of worship. As we stand for the creed, we join with the millions of Christians since the time of the early Church in professing the same faith as they did. Then for the prayers of intercession, we express ourselves as a priestly people – daring to present the needs of the community and the world to God our Father. This is not just a spiritual exercise. We pray that the hungry be fed and the sick be cared for through us as Christ’s body.
We then present the gifts of bread and wine. With these gifts we offer back to God all his creation, including the gift of our lives - all that we have and all that we are. These are the gifts that are offered in prayer and then transformed by the Holy Spirit to become the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus. With the Eucharistic prayer we join with Christ in the Spirit in the great prayer of thanksgiving to the Father. The as we stand for the Lord’s prayer, we pray as Jesus taught us, daring to call God ‘Our Father’ which means that we are all brothers and sisters.
Then, at the Lord’s invitation, we come forward and receive the bread from heaven. This is the sublime moment when the Father unites himself to us intimately through Christ as the source of life and love. It is the time when we welcome into our very selves the God who loves us and knows us and who wants to dwell within us. In that moment of unity, we meet the God who penetrates us with his divinity and embraces every aspect of our humanity.
Then finally, after the closing prayer we are blessed and sent – sent out into the world again renewed to face another week, to be an intentional disciple of Christ and to bear witness to his saving love.
Friends, here is the Mass. Here is a treasure, a fountain of living water and a source of food that nourishes the soul like no other. Explore the Mass, know the Mass, come to Mass, take part in the Mass, love the Mass. In the words of Jesus to the woman at the well: ‘If you only knew what God is offering’ (Jn. 4: 10).