Happy Liturgical New Year!
Isaiah 63:16b-17, 19b: 64:2-7; Ps 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19;
1 Cor 1:3-9; Mark 13:33-37
Dear Holy Spirit, as we begin another year looking more deeply at the life of the Son of God, Jesus Christ on earth, please help us understand his significance in world history. Jesus Christ is our greatest on-going gift.
We have finished another church year. Each liturgical year we think about some aspect of God’s loving plan for us, his creation. We have some sense of humanity’s disobedience to God’s plan as revealed to us in the Bible. We also have some sense of humanity’s continued disobedience today on earth with the daily not-so-good news.
Our Father’s plan
The church provides us with some glimpse of what God’s plan is for us. We see God, our creator and father, sending his Son to earth in the person of Jesus Christ.
Jesus, in his public life, speaks to us about our Father’s plan. He doesn’t just speak about it but shows us how to live it by loving and caring for one another.
Two major feasts
The church year centers around the two major feasts, that of Christmas and Easter. Some of the greatest music in the world has been written about these feasts. They are separated by about four months.
Advent is a preparation for celebrating the coming of God’s Son to earth. He took on our human nature, except our sins. Easter celebrates the death of Jesus for the sins of the entire human race. God, our Father, shows us that he accepted the sacrifice of his Son by raising him from the dead and sending him back to us.
Jesus never left
Once Jesus came to earth he really has never left. Yes, with his glorified body he went back to heaven. Yet he told us in the gospel that he would remain here until the end of time on earth. He is not here bodily as you and I are. The gospels tell us that he is here when two or three are gathered in his name and do his will. He lives within us from our baptism until our death unless we tell him to leave due to our grave sinfulness.
Yet he is most powerfully present in the “breaking of the bread and sharing of the cup.” This is the greatest miracle every day all over the world. He makes himself present when Mass is being celebrated every day all over the world. We don’t fully understand how here on earth. The Holy Spirit and the priest, in the person of Jesus, change bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus for our salvation. God teaches us how to live his new life by the scripture readings and feeding us with his own Body and Blood.
Celebrating the Eucharist for 45 years
I have celebrated Mass almost every day of my 45 years as a priest of Jesus Christ. Jesus becomes present as I say the words of consecration. I hold him in my hands and then give him to those present who have come to receive Jesus. We place the extra Eucharist in the tabernacle to be given later to those who are ill.
Jesus teaches us, heals us, brings us more divine power and then sends us out into the world to bless others and help Jesus make the world a better place to live. We are ambassadors for Jesus, his hands working in the world. Christmas is every day. It is Christ’s Mass. He is the greatest present for us. How awesome is that miracle. The greatest meal on earth, which no money can buy.
Advent is not a penitential season like the six-week fasting of Lent. Advent can be a joyful winter cleaning in preparation for celebrating the birthday of Jesus for love of us. Jesus smiles and opens his arms to hold us close to his loving heart. Saying, “Thank you, Jesus,” seems too inadequate for such a great blessing.
May Jesus help us to see more clearly his great gift and come with greater reverence at Mass. May Christ’s presence help us be more thankful for God’s blessings.
Have a great week,
+ Fr. Bob Hilz
(© 2017 Fr. Bob Hilz, TOR)