Sunday, May 24, 2009  At each Mass, we enjoin ourselves through Jesus to the Father.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Fr. Ed Oen

Recently, a group of high school students was to prepare the liturgy for the Feast of the Ascension that we celebrate today. The chose the opening song, a large bouquet of fresh flowers; they made a big banner. The banner only had three words: “Yup, He’s Up!”

The got the idea for the banner from the First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles.  You notice the word “up”.  It was used several times. Jesus was taken up, lifted up. The Disciples were also looking up to the sky. The Disciples thought that the direction was up.

Today’s gospel tells us that Jesus tells us to go in all directions, preaching to the whole world. Yes, Jesus ascended into heaven, but Jesus is still with us. He is present in the Church. He is present where two or more disciples are gathered. He is within us. He is in sacred scripture. He is present in the greatest sacrament of the Eucharist. Jesus has become our mediator between us and the Father. Now He intercedes for us until the end of the world.

Before Jesus died for us and ascended, there was a chasm between the Father and us. Adam and Eve, through original sin, ruptured the relationship between us and God. And a chasm was created then; there was no way for us to get to God. Jesus has surmounted that chasm; He is the bridge that reaches to heaven. Jesus is our mediator to the Father, for the whole human race.

The high point of the Eucharistic prayer is when the priest holds up the body of Jesus. This is the best we have; we have the son of Man. We hold Him up and we say, “Through Him, with Him and in Him, all glory and honor is your’s Almighty Father, forever and ever.”

And we don’t sing Amen once; we sing it three times. “Yes, yes, yes; we worship You, we adore You, through Jesus, in Jesus and with Jesus.” At each Mass, we enjoin ourselves through Jesus to the Father. Jesus takes all our praise, love, thanksgiving; He takes our good works, our joys, our sufferings – and He joins them to Himself at the Consecration time. That’s the real Offertory. Many parishes have not caught up with the changes the Church made in titling. They say, “The Offertory song is this …”  It is really a preparation of gifts song. The Offertory is where we offer Jesus to the Father in union with Jesus. And hopefully as we pray our morning offering as we pray, “O my God, I offer you through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, all my prayers, works, joys and sufferings, in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world.” So we offer everything we have in union with Jesus. We bring the gifts up, the bread and wine and your offering that represents one hour’s wages of the past week, that you make a sacrificial offering in union with Jesus. When the wine is poured into the cup, it’s a reminder that we are offering this Mass in union with Jesus. We join our sacrifice with the unbloody sacrifice of the Mass in union with Jesus who offers Himself over and over again in each Mass.

The sacrifice of the Mass takes place at the consecration of the bread and wine. The Jewish people would drain the blood from the animal. To them, the blood was the life principle. When the blood was set to one side, that animal was dead.

The priest takes bread and says, “This is my body.”  He puts that aside. Then he takes wine and says, “This is my blood.” These are joined; we now have the body and blood of Jesus.

Jesus is able to be everywhere at the same time. He wants us to spread the good news that God loves us and that God is with us. God forgives us. If you read the parables, you find forgiveness mentioned over and over. Jesus teaches that if God the Father forgives us, we are to forgive one another. That’s the good news – that God stays with us even when we commit the most heinous sin.

The students’ banner was right on target, “Yup, He’s Up!” The Lord is present right here; He’s not just up in the clouds. The new liturgy says that Jesus is among us; we no longer celebrate Mass with the priest having his back to the congregation.  Jesus is here; He is among us.

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