Wednesday, 10 February 2010

A kingdom of priests...

At the last theology in the bar for this semester, Fr Tim spoke of the sacrifice of the Mass. We are very used to the idea of going to Church so w can be fed and nourished, both in God's Word given in scripture, or in the flesh and blood of Jesus in Holy Communion.

But our incredible dignity as Christians is revealed when we share in the sacrifice of Jesus made present in the Eucharistic prayer, made present for us through the consecration of the bread and wine which become the body and blood of Christ.

We do not just receive the fruits of that offering of Jesus - we receive the sacrifice itself, our lives become sacrifice. As we enter that mystery of Jesus dying in love for the whole human race, we are not just passive, but actively participate. If we are suffering, we can unite our suffering with his, so he can use it in his saving love. We can offer that mystery of the cross for those we love, for ourselves, or for the salvation of the whole world.

When we understand what's going on in the Mass, it's strange to think in terms of 'Sunday obligation' at all - what better place can there be, than in that mystery of the love of the Trinity bursting forth on the cross!


Anonymous said...

I think Jesus' death on the cross was a once and for all event - we don't need more sacrifices. I thought we had a reformation to sort this out!

RJ said...

As I understand it, the Catholic understanding is NOT that we repeat the sacrifice but that it is made present again. (This is in line with Jewish thinking about the original Passover)
One can also talk about offering Jesus' one-time sacrifice again (without repeating it).
Moreover, we become one with Jesus, so we participate in his sacrifice in our lives now, as members of his body. This element is I think lacking in Protestant thinking, but, if that is the case, then what value would suffering have? Ok, so it might make you more humble and receptive to God's grace. I think, though, that for Catholics suffering can be a redemptive participation in the suffering of Christ. Our sufferings can be part of that all-sufficient sacrifice of Christ because we are one with him.
Perhaps the more learned moderators of this blog could correct me on any misunderstandings here.