“If you sit down at the table of a king, note well what is set before you.”
Proverbs 23:1. In one of his sermons, St. Augustine applied this to us, celebrating Holy Mass, at the table of Christ our King. “Note well what is set before you.”
What is set before us at Mass? What did the Lord set before His disciples in the Upper Room? Nothing less than His complete, utter, total self. His Body, Blood, soul, and divinity.
Here I am, given up for you on the cross, out of infinite love! I give Myself to you, as your food and drink, as I give Myself to the Father!
Judas did not note this well. If he had, he could hardly have betrayed the Son of Man with a kiss.
Every Holy Week, Judas’ kiss haunts me, pricks my somnolent conscience. Since us clergymen kiss the King’s table to start every Holy Mass. Fresh from renewing our vows, we priests had better kiss the altar with pure honesty, with chaste hearts, and with humility, noting well what the Lord sets on this table. Otherwise, the Lord’s words to Judas will apply to us, too. “Would you betray Me with a kiss?”
Not just priests, though. All of us have to note well, have to behold, have to let ourselves be ravished by what the Blessed Sacrament of the altar really is.
Forgive me; I don’t mean to get crass here. But we find ourselves meditating on how the Lord Jesus gives us His whole Self on the altar, holding nothing back, on the very day when one of the big news items in Washington is: Catholic institutions go before the Supreme Court to object to artificial contraception.
The Lord gives us Himself, His whole self, all of Himself. How could we not object to artificial contraception? Could any of us note well what He gives us on the altar, and then turn around and play little games, interposing some artificial or chemical impediment in the middle of the love of husband and wife? In the middle of the gift of self that gives the world the next generation?
No. Or course not. We could hardly be so dishonest. Of course we object.
Lord, help us to note well what You give. Help us to give You ourselves in return.