“I received from the Lord what I handed on to you.”

bassano last supper

St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians to encourage them. And to correct them.

We might call the first part of the letter a “dossier”—a dossier of the corruptions of the church in Corinth. Factionalism, sexual immorality, incorrect doctrine, pride and complacency—St. Paul accused the Corinthian Christians of all these faults. As we read at Holy Mass today, he even accused them of selfishly neglecting the sacred worship of the holy Church, the banquet of the Body and Blood of the Christ.

But let’s take heart in how St. Paul explained the Mass to the Corinthians. St. Paul received the Mass. He received the tradition that began in the upper room on Holy Thursday night. St. Paul received the authority to celebrate the Eucharist. And St. Paul handed it on to the Christians in Corinth.

He handed on the ceremony; he handed on the authority to celebrate it; he handed on the entire divine mystery. Not as something that belonged to him or to them. As something that belonged to the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church of Jesus Christ, as a whole.

El Greco St. Paul in St LouisIn other words: At the heart of the life of the Church, we find this mystery which Christ Himself gave us. This mystery which is Christ Himself. It came from Him; it is His gift to us—His gift of Himself, of His love.

This holy mystery, the Mass, makes the Church the Church. And it doesn’t come from us. It comes from God. It is God, made man, in the flesh.

St. Paul wrote to correct the Corinthians. But he also wrote to encourage them. And he encourages us, too. At our altars, we proclaim the death of the Lord Jesus, until He comes again. Jesus ordered us to do it, so we do.

We all have plenty of faults, and plenty of cares weigh down our minds. But when we celebrate the Holy Mass together, we stand in harmony with God. And He Himself is with us–the true Lord of our Church–in the flesh.

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4 thoughts on ““I received from the Lord what I handed on to you.”

  1. I only know that, no matter what stress may be occurring in my life, when I come to Mass I find the comfort and strength I need. As always, thank you Fr. Mark.
    Judy R.

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