Corpus Christi - Fr. Adam Royal
June 6, 2021 - 11:00 AM
Jesus said to the disciples, the man carrying a jar of water “will show you a large upper room furnished and ready. Make the preparations for us there.” This statement appears to be a contradiction. Jesus tells the disciples to make preparations; however, the room is furnished and ready. A room that is furnished and ready for the passover does not need more preparations. It simply requires everyone sit down and begin the meal. Something unexpected is happening in this story. Jesus is not asking the disciples to prepare for a seder, the usual passover meal yearly observed by the Jews. He is doing something new. This is the first mass. It is the the sacrifice of Christ, the same sacrifice he will make on the cross.
In a way that mysteriously transcends our understanding, the sacrifice of Christ was not a mere moment in time. It was the moment when God’s eternal now intersected our history. It lifted up our world into the divine realm and transfigured it, because it is only in God’s death that we see the depth of his love for us. It is only in his willingness to sacrifice all that he has and is, that we finally understand what infinite love, infinite mercy truly look like. Thus the cross becomes the focal point of history, drawing all things into itself and imbuing them with meaning and significance. That includes us.
Being made in the image of God we were created to imitate God. This means imitating his sacrificial love. Everything thing we have was given to us so that we could give it away, so that we could sacrifice it. That is why Christ called the disciples to make preparations. They were not sent to prepare the room. They were sent to prepare themselves. They were being inaugurated as priests of a new and perfect covenant, an eternal covenant. The disciples were being asked to sacrifice their lives back to God, to return to him all that had been given them from the beginning.
The mass is not a spectacle to be observed. It is the very work of God being brought to completion in the world. The mass is the meaning of our lives, it is the fulfillment of our being. When we offer the bread and wine on the altar, we are not only sacrificing those elements. We are sacrificing Christ. We are being lifted up to the eternal Calvary, to the one everlasting moment in which God himself is sacrificed. We stand beside the cross and behold our salvation, we behold the love that overwhelms our desires. And we have a role to play. We must join Christ on the cross. We, to be our authentic selves, must offer up our lives as well. Our joys and sorrows, our happiest thoughts and our darkest fears. All is to be placed upon the altar of the cross and given back to God.
As the words of consecration are pronounced, the bread and wine will become not the dead corpse of God, but the Resurrected and Glorified Body of Christ. And so will we. If we will place ourselves upon the altar then we too will be transfigured; even the whole world will be transfigured. And this is the essence of Christianity, in a spirit of thanksgiving and absolute dependence to return this fallen world to God so that he may purify it in his love and return it to us perfect as it was intended from the beginning.