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Let’s say that the Holy Father was going to visit the United States. The first stop would be Boston and he wanted to have dinner here at St. Clement Shrine, hosted by the Oblates of the Virgin Mary. We would have to go to work. We would need to set up the hall with tables and chairs. How many guests would there be, and whom do we invite? We also would need to know if we would have enough plates and forks. Would there be speeches and entertainment? We would need a microphone and sound system. What is on the menu? Should we have Argentinian cuisine, or perhaps New England with clam chowder and lobster tails? That is a bit expensive. Do we have a budget? Are there diet concerns? Security? Needless to say, there are a lot of details to attend to, but having the Pope would be a great honor and a lot of fun. In addition to enjoying the presence of the Pope, we would also be recipients of papal gifts. Perhaps we would all receive the Apostolic blessing. There would certainly be photographs to mark the occasion, and even a gift, such as a monstrance or a chalice, to remember the event.
When the people went to the Temple to worship, most often they were attending a feast. Not with a famous person like a king or governor, but they would be enjoying the presence of God. The sacrificed animal would be the occasion that would bring God and the faithful together. The animal would be divided. The part of the animal that would be served to God would be the inner organs (liver, heart, kidney, intestines, stomach, etc.) because these parts burned really well. This produced smoke that would turn into a cloud. God loves to hover over His people in a cloud. The part of the animal that would go to the people would be the double lamb chops and porterhouse steaks. At these festival banquets with the divine, it was common practice for God to give His people a gift. When the Israelites celebrated the first Passover, God gave the people their freedom papers. They were no longer slaves to Egypt. When the people offered another sacrifice in the desert at Mount Sinai, God gave the people a covenant. Think of the covenant as the wedding day between God and the people.
Now let us go to the upper room at the Last Supper when Jesus said to His disciples,
This is My Body and Blood which is offered as a Sacrifice for many.” The disciples heard these words with their Jewish ears and this is what they understood that Jesus was the sacrifice that would bring the people and God together for a very happy occasion. The divine gift for this celebration would be eternal life. This is truly big.
When we go to Mass each Sunday, we often get distracted by the details. Where do I park? Do I need a mask? The guy next to me just sneezed. The baby in front of me is crying and I can’t hear very well. There are lots of details and distractions. But never let the details allow you to forget that this event is really big. Christ sacrificed Himself so that God and humanity can be together in order for us to receive the gift of eternal life. This is big. If we want to be deeply spiritual people, we always have to think big. We must always see beyond the details.Back to All Homilies