By Manolito S. Jaldon Jr.,
Director of Evangelization & Faith Formation, St. Brendan Parish
As part of our message series, Mass Communication, each week we will summarize the part of the Mass preached about in the previous Sunday’s homily. This week, the spotlight is on the Concluding Rite.
We can never exhaust our understanding of the Sunday Eucharist. While I cannot say anything not already discussed in the countless books, tomes, and elaborate discourses from various holy people throughout the centuries, allow me to share what has spoken to my heart about the Mass for many years.
One of my first treasured spiritual books before entering seminary was Henri Nouwen’s Life of the Beloved. In this work, Nouwen speaks of how our lives are shaped by the Eucharist. Each Sunday, we gather to partake in holy bread that is blessed, broken, and shared. This model of Eucharist is the very shape of our lives. We are favored by God who has chosen us for himself; our lives are often broken and crushed in order that we may find healing among others within a church community. In this setting, our lives are shared with and poured out for each other.
But the concluding rite of the Mass speaks of a different dynamic. The Mass ends as it begins, by signing ourselves with the cross and in the name of the Trinity. The cross becomes the frame and seal, the beginning and end of the whole celebration of the Holy Mass, and in the sign of the cross we are reminded that the pattern of the Son becomes our pattern for mission. After hearing the word of Christ preached and receiving his body and blood, we do not remain in the comforting space of our faith community, but rather take our Lord out beyond the walls of sacred space to serve the world.
Everything that has happened at Mass, serves more than our personal needs. It is the Eucharistic Liturgy that “daily builds up those who are in the Church . . . , marvelously increasing their power to preach Christ and thus show forth the Church, a sign lifted up among the nations, to those who are outside” (Sacrosanctum concilium n. 2). In short, we are transformed to be bread for the world. And, if we are sent into the world in the same manner as the Son, what is implied is our own self-emptying, as we take up our calling to serve as the priests we were baptized to be.
In case you still wonder, consider the massive account of the Passion of Saint Mark we heard this weekend. We have faced Love, who is fully proclaimed in our hearing. Does this story send us, as the Rite of Sending commissions us, to tell the world about the love and mercy of God?
This event we call liturgy is the tangible and real way in which we experience God. He reveals himself as love and mercy. Go, therefore, and tell others, so that we can return to this liturgy again to be enlivened, fed, and nourished.
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