30th Sunday- C
I don’t know what your expectation is as you come to the celebration of the mass every weekend! Are you looking for a mountain top experience? Are you looking for something spectacular and supernatural that will change your life forever? Or are you expecting nothing much different from last week; just the same old same old. Remember the story of transfiguration! At the mountain top, peter, James and John had a heavenly experience. At the very beginning of the mass, the celebrant is greeting the congregation saying the Lord be with you! In fact, you will hear the same greetings several times during the celebration. It is because at the celebration of the Eucharist we are going on a pilgrimage. We are moving from the natural world to the supernatural. And we can’t do it alone. We definitely need the help of the Lord! That is why the celebrant greeting the congregation saying, the Lord be with you! With the help of the Lord, we can do it! May that amazing experience happen to you today! Someone, once asked me, father, ‘how sad would it be if the bread and wine at Mass changed and transformed and we didn’t? How sad, indeed, if all the miracle and mystery residing in this sacrament is never communicated to us? Bread and wine become Body and Blood. Then we partake and become incarnations of Christ, become another Christ! But what if we don’t, or at least, don’t know it? Is our Eucharist ever complete if we don’t personally acknowledge how transformed we are and how this sacramental metamorphosis changes everything?
Today we have the story of two people in the temple praying! Remember, they are in the same temple! Probably at the same time attending the same service! Bible says, one of them went home justified and to the other nothing happened! He just wasted his time! After coming all the way, and spending time in the temple and after praying all that prayers, absolutely nothing is happening to him! That’s strange and sad! To me in the broader sense, these are not two people! These are two attitudes and mentality! Attitudes, mentality and style also play a very key and significant role in encountering Christ and changing our life at the celebration of the Mass. As you go home today; would you go home justified or would you go back just as you came! When it comes to the celebration of the Eucharist, there’s no elevator. You have to take the stairs and walk the walk. The steps that drive us deep into the soul of our liturgy involve preparation, reflection, catechesis, and conversion.
Preparation means understanding that there are two kinds of participation: Active and Passive: What do you mean by full and active participation? It means a shift from Spectator (observer, watcher, and outsider) to Participant. So active participation means two things: first- it means the interior participation of all the powers of the soul. That means you are here early enough, you are well located keeping distractions away as much as possible, coming to mass after reading the scripture passage to understand better during the mass and then once you are here your mind and heart is awake, alert and engaged. Secondly – Participation involves exterior action, saying prayers and doing things intentionally.
Reflection means, after the mass, I personally and collectively reflect on what and how the Lord spoke to me today! And we do that during the whole week long! Catechesis means, I keep on educating myself using the plenty of resources available. It is so important, because the celebration of the Eucharist is a mystery! It is as big as God himself is. I have been celebrating mass for almost 20 years; how much do I know, a little!
And finally conversion! After each Sunday Mass I have to take one step forward and come closer to the Lord! Here we have to return to the original question: How sad would it be if the bread and wine changed—and we didn’t? I met this young lady who goes to daily mass! She said, ‘no matter what, I seldom miss a daily mass! In the beginning, I didn’t return from the head of the communion line to the pews transfigured, with shining face and dazzling clothes. The transformation of liturgy on my life has been more like the lapping of waves on the shore that gradually changes the shoreline completely. You can’t see the influence unless you intentionally engage and participate!
In the second reading, Paul’s words are dictated, probably to Luke, shortly before his martyrdom at the decree of the Roman Emperor Nero in the year 66 AD. For thirty years he has traveled, witnessed, worked and preached throughout the Mediterranean world. He has been helped and hated, assisted and attacked, blessed and cursed. Whatever else can be said of his faith and life, it certainly wasn’t dull! Enduring imprisonment and anticipating his execution, Paul says I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me! What an accomplishment! Like the bread and wine, Paul is transformed! ‘How sad would it be if the bread and wine at Mass changed and transformed and we didn’t? Am I trying enough to make that happen! To understand the clear state of my spiritual life, humility is needed! Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”