Did I during Easter time, when all churches were locked and I followed liturgies on TV, did I really miss something.?
In our lives, we need the real thing where all our senses are involved. Is this so when we are at mass here on Sunday? There are many reasons why people come to church: maybe it is simply a habit or some are being inspired by the homily. I know a very lonely person who comes from far away to church, just for the coffee after mass, his only time to meet and communicate with people. Why then is it that often we do not feel a vital need for the Eucharist? I think on reason could be that we have not fully understood our Christian vocation.
At Pentecost the church prays: “Come Holy Spirit… and renew the face of the earth.” God wants to renew the world, but God cannot not transform the world without us, we cannot do it without God. The key word is renewal, transformation. But we cannot transform the world unless we are transformed ourselves. Eucharist, encountering Jesus in his word and his supreme act of self-giving, is a gradual lifelong process of transformation. We have to be transformed, so that we can transform the world around us. How does the Eucharist transform us?
- The first thing is to remember that God is the source of all that is good and thank and praise him for all his gifts. But also realise how inadequate we are to live our vocation and ask for forgiveness for our failures and weaknesses.
- When we listen actively to the reading, especially the Gospel, we reconnect with the vision of Jesus which is so easily lost in our secular world.
- Offertory is not about bringing to God bread and wine, which He does not really need. Nor is it in the first place putting some money into the collection box to support our community and help the poor. The offering, represented symbolically by bread and wine, is nothing less than bringing ourselves, our lives, our world before God that He may transform them by the Holy Spirit.
- The core of the Eucharist is the consecration. We are with him at table at His last supper and taking in his words: This is myself; this is my life given up for you. And the invitation: Do the same in your own life, make it a gift for others so that they may life.
We often forget that before and after consecration there is a prayer to the Holy Spirit, asking Him first to transform bread and wine into Christ’s body and blood, make the risen Christ in his fullness present among us. After our gifts have been transformed, we ask that the same Spirit may transform us so that we “become one body and one spirit in Christ.”
So the mass is about transformation: transforming our hearts and our lives so that at the end we are ready to be sent out to transform the world, our little world where God has placed us.
This cooperation, this kind of team work between God and us, is well expressed in a prayer that was read out at the burial of the martyr and saint Oscar Romero:
"The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision. We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God's work… We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own."
Fr. Wolfgang Schonecke (at his last Eucharist at All Saints)