Celebrating Ongoing Incarnation

What does the celebration of the Mass mean to you? Is it simply a religious ritual? Or an edifying experience? Or even a communal experience that makes you a member of the Catholic club? Today, we believe that Christ is risen and now and present, offering us a whole new perception and experience of the Mass. We experience Christ’s ongoing Incarnation at a fever pitch in the Mass.

The Mass is the celebration of the Risen Christ’s ongoing Incarnation, His ongoing transformation of people, His ongoing empowerment of people, His ongoing unifying of people into a community─the unique actions that He performed during His lifetime. At Mass, we experience greater union with Christ by performing those same unique actions of Christ and at the same time we incarnate Christ more deeply.

Invitation. How does the Risen Christ transform us at Mass? Through Scripture.  Not primarily as a source of religious information, but as an “encounter causer”, explains Fr. John Walsh, M.M. in Integral Justice. The Gospel stories are empowered by the Risen Christ, who is not limited by time or geography, to bring about new encounters of love with Jesus and others. The Jesus of history acts as Encounter Causer in the present to invite us to metanoia, change of mind, heart and will through Scripture.

When we hear the Scripture readings and sermon, we have to ask ourselves: “What element of my life vision needs change? My attitude toward God, myself, others, life?” We have to ask Christ what He wants of us, so that we can bring about our own ongoing incarnation of Christ. We have to say with all the sincerity we can muster: “Lord, make my day. Change my vision!” In this way, we are inviting the Divine Inviter, performing the same, unique action of Jesus. Our own ongoing incarnation of Christ begins.

Surrender. At Mass, we present gifts of bread and wine, symbols of our lives. But for the transformation process to take place, we must be willing to sacrifice that which prevents us from becoming the Christ that we are already. Jesus’ words heard earlier ring in our ears. Surrendering to Christ’s invitation to change requires sacrifice, and it is important to recognize what has to be sacrificed. For example, if Christ asks us for greater humility, we may need to sacrifice our pride, Again, like Jesus, we are performing His unique action of Self-sacrifice, turning over our lives to God. Our own ongoing incarnation of Christ quickens.

      Empowerment. At the consecration, empowerment comes through total self-sacrifice. But first the sacrifice. It is as if we are saying, “Not just the change You are asking of me in Scripture, I will give up my whole life.” For it is our life, time, energy and resources that we are offering up in Jesus’ memory. We are both priest and victim as was Christ. Further, through His ongoing Incarnation, we have been gathered up to become the Body of Christ. When we offer up Christ’s sacrifice, we offer up ourselves.

The coin of sacrifice has another side, empowerment. The Risen Christ’s presence enables the Spirit to empower bread and wine with Jesus’ full personhood, immersing us in a living engagement with the person of Jesus. We are in touch with His power, too.  Here we must ask for the empowerment to bring about our own ongoing incarnation,

Union. Holy communion is holy challenge. Reception means that we are saying “Yes” to Christ’s invitation to our personal metanoia. At the same time, we are saying “Yes” to the Risen Christ melding of us into union with Him and into union with others, especially those in need of justice, the marginal people of the world. Ultimately at Mass, with the whole community, immediate and worldwide, we incarnate the Body of Christ!