What the Mass Is About

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2015/07/10 at 12:00 AM


As I’ve mentioned a few times in the past several months, it is my hope that we will be able to raise enough money with our capital campaign not only to pay off our debt, but also pay for a mural on the apse wall of the sanctuary.
Specifically, I’m working with an artist right now to create a scene of Heaven. The mural will show Jesus as the Paschal Lamb standing atop an altar, surrounded by angels who are holding the instruments of His Passion and death.
Looking down from above will be God the Father and the Holy Spirit, while to the sides – coming before our Lord in adoration – will be various biblical figures and saints.
The reason why I want our mural to be a scene of Heaven is because I want Heaven and the gift of salvation to be ever before your minds whenever you are here in this church.
Heaven is precisely what we should be meditating on whenever we come to Mass! Indeed, the Mass, by its very nature, is ordered toward getting us to Heaven.
The Mass is not simply some ritual that we follow as Catholics. At Mass our Lord’s salvific actions on Calvary are re-presented to us in an unbloody fashion. That gift of salvation that won for us on Good Friday and revealed on Easter Sunday is given to us once again.
Because of this, every thing in the Mass should point us to, remind us of, and prepare us for Heaven. The music, the reverence by which the Mass is offered, and even the church building itself should in some way point us to Heaven.
To be sure: the Mass is about salvation! And St. Paul reminds us today of the primacy of salvation in his 1st Letter to St. Timothy today. He tells us that God “wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.”
Think about that for a second: God Almighty – He Who is the Creator of all things – desires that each and every one of us be saved and go to Heaven. That is His explicit will.
Hopefully this isn’t news to any of you, but nonetheless, it is always good to be reminded of this very profound and hopeful truth. Our God is a God who saves – Who desires that all of His children enjoy eternal life.
This is a truth that our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has been championing repeatedly during his short time as Christ’s Vicar. Certainly, the message of salvation is the context within which his recent interview that came out this week must be understood.
Some of you may have seen the headlines in the past few days about the lengthy interview that the Holy Father gave last month to a fellow Jesuit.
Unfortunately, the New York Times and other news outlets have predictably distorted and misinterpreted his comments about abortion and gay marriage to serve their liberal agenda.
Their news stories make it seem that these were the only topics he discussed in this interview, and that he was critical of the Church’s stance on these issues.
But if you read what the Holy Father actually said, you’ll find that while he does mention both abortion and gay marriage, he doesn’t question the Church’s teachings at all.
He merely states that helping people to salvation requires that we look at more than just these issues, and that we, as a Church, keep in mind the woundedness of each person and seek to heal those wounds as we try to introduce them to the truths of our Faith.
Indeed, what the Holy Father said in the interview was really quite beautiful. In particular he picked up on what we hear from St. Paul today as the primary duty of the Church: the proclamation that Jesus Christ has redeemed us!
The Holy Father states in this interview that before we can talk to people about their mortal sins or engage the world on controversial issues such as abortion, gay marriage, and contraception, we must first preach Christ as merciful savior.
If people do not first believe in God or in their absolute need for His grace, then there’s very little chance that they will listen to the Church’s moral teachings.
Thus, the primary work of the Church today is the New Evangelization: the re-presenting of the Good News of the Gospel to a world that has largely forgotten it. The Church first and foremost must be the agent of God’s mercy and love.
But this is not simply the work of bishops and priests; it is the work of all of us.
Every single one of us who is a baptized believer must take on the task of proclaiming JesusChrist as the savior to a world that is drowning in disorder and chaos, and is therefore so inneed of His mercy.
Just this week alone we saw two more cases of mass killings in our country: in Washington,DC, and in Chicago. I submit to you that these incidents are not isolated, randomoccurrences, but are rather the fruit of the moral chaos that is reigning in our country.
And in the face of these terrible events, it is all the more important that we, as Christians,constantly proclaim Jesus Christ as the only means of salvation to the world around us.
Our first reading today speaks of our dealings with the poor, while the Gospel reminds us ofthe importance of being a good steward.
I think the poorest people in this world are those who do not know Christ and are enmeshedin terrible sin, and therefore we must not to neglect them. I also think that while it’s very important for us to be good stewards of our time, talent, and treasure, it’s even more important that we be good stewards of our faith!
If we have been baptized, we have received the gift of faith. And it’s so very necessary that we practice our faith so that it will grow and mature. But it’s also so very necessary that we share our faith with others so that they, too, might come to a saving knowledge of Christ!
If we consider those who do not know Christ as Savior, or those who have rejected Him, to be the poorest people in the world, then it makes so much sense that we should be willing to share the riches of our faith with them.
Pope Francis did not say that we should back away from the truths of important issues like abortion, gay marriage, or contraception. His point was that we must first help people enter into a relationship with Jesus so that they will be better able to receive His teachings.
Truly, helping a person to know Christ so that they might experience His saving mercy and compassionate forgiveness that He so willingly extends to all of us is the greatest gift that we can give anyone. It is the most charitable thing that any of us can do.
But we can only give this gift of faith if we are strong in faith ourselves, which means being in a relationship with Jesus ourselves through prayer. It also means being knowledgeable of and obedient to our Church’s teachings.
And it means having the courage to share our faith with others when given the opportunity.
My brothers and sisters, our world may seem very dark right now. But Jesus Christ is ourlight and our salvation! May we who received the light of Christ at our baptism keep this flame of faith alive in our hearts.
May we keep our eyes always on Heaven, and may we use this flame of faith to set the worldon fire with love for God!

22 September 2013

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio.
To enable the audio, lease go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.

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