When the Lord Jesus walked with Cleopas and the other disciple on the way to Emmaus on Easter Sunday, He chided them for their lack of faith. “How foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe!”
[Click por Spanish: Tercer Domingo de Pascua 2017]
How foolish and slow of heart to believe. Let’s check ourselves against these words of Christ. What did He mean, when He criticized these disciples like this?
To believe means to trust, to accept completely. We humble ourselves before the One in Whom we believe. We submit ourselves to Him as His defenseless children.
When we believe in God Almighty like this, we achieve our true nobility as creatures made in His image and likeness. If we put our deepest trust in anyone or anything else, other than God, we will be betrayed. We cannot entrust ourselves with this kind of faith to another human being, or group of people, or gadgets or computers or anything else.
And, if we are not foolish and slow of heart, we believe also in God’s Christ. We believe in the Son sent by the heavenly Father. By virtue of our faith in God, we can behold Christ, our brother, for Who He truly is, the God-man.
The Christ offered Himself, in the sacrifice of pure divine love, for our sakes, on the cross. Then He rose from the dead. And He took His seat in the glory of heaven, where He reigns as High Priest and King. We do not hesitate to trust this King of Love as our true God, and to rely on Him completely.
Not only that. We Christian believers, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, recognize this Christ in the breaking of the bread.
Our faith, therefore, involves a series of unbreakable connections, when it comes to what we believe in. 1) We believe in Almighty God, our Creator. 2) To believe in God is to believe in Christ. And 3) To believe in Christ is to believe in the Mass.
The Church did not make up the Mass; Christ made up the Mass, and by doing so, He made the Church. The Church did not make up the sacred priesthood; Christ made up the sacred priesthood, and by doing so, He made the Church. The Church did not say ‘This is my Body,’ and ‘This is my Blood;’ Christ said ‘This is my Body,’ and ‘This is my Blood,’ and by doing so, He made the Church.
He gathered His Apostles, entrusting His divine Body and Blood to them by His infallible words, and then He offered that same Body and Blood on the cross. His own words make clear the inseparable connection between the Mass and the cross: “This is my Body, which will be given up for you;” “This is my Blood, which will be shed for you.”
In other words, to believe in the Mass is to believe in the Redemption, and to believe in the Redemption is to believe in the Holy Mass. The Mass and the redeeming sacrifice of Jesus are the same thing. The Church did not make this up; Christ made this up, and in doing so, He made the Church.
If we really think about it, we see that we need the Mass in order to understand the real meaning of Jesus’ Passion and crucifixion. That’s precisely what the dejected disciples on the road to Emmaus did not yet grasp.
They thought that Jesus’ condemnation and death involved a terrible tragedy. They didn’t realize that it was a sacrifice, the sacrifice of divine love. They thought their beloved rabbi had suffered a crushing defeat. They didn’t realize that, on the cross, love triumphed; Jesus gave Himself to the Father, for us, with perfect love. Christ’s crucifixion involved neither tragedy nor defeat, because He freely gave Himself in sacrifice as the consummate act of love.
We can begin to understand all this only when we see that Jesus’ offered Himself in sacrifice at the Last Supper, and on the Cross, and this is the sacrifice of the Mass: all together it is one sacrifice, Christ’s sacrifice, the sacrifice of true religion.
Pope St. John Paul II put it like this:
The sacrifice of our redemption is so decisive for the human race that Jesus Christ offered it and returned to the Father only after he had left us a means of sharing in it, as if we had been present there.
So: No, not foolish or slow of heart to believe; no. To the contrary: Lord, we believe! We believe in God Almighty. We believe in His Christ. We believe in the Mass.