We Believe in God-Christ-Mass

st albans psalter road to emmaus

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.

holymassThe 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.

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The Messiah We Actually Got

st albans psalter road to emmaus

The two disciples recounted what had taken place on the way, and how Jesus was made known to them in the breaking of the bread. (Luke 24:35)

On the way… Where? On the road to… Emmaus.

The two disciples moped along, downcast and directionless. Jesus had been crucified. His body had gone missing. And these two disciples did not understand. Then, on the road, they met a mysterious stranger who wanted to know what was eating them.

“We thought he would redeem Israel. But now our hopes are dashed.”

The stranger replied, “Seems to me you have missed something crucial here. Have you never read Isaiah 52 and 53? Psalm 22, 34, and 69? Exodus 12? Wisdom 2? Zechariah 12?

“What kind of Messiah did you think was going to come? Was the Messiah going to redeem Israel without uniting Himself with the suffering of His people? Without offering Himself as the truly pleasing sacrifice to the Father? Without establishing the religion of the new and eternal covenant?

“After all, the blood of bulls and goats does not atone for sins. Man, left to his own devices, stands helpless before inevitable death. Something that overcomes the separation between man and God had to happen.

“God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, and His ways not our ways. Human beings see crucifixion as the most shameful death imaginable. Human beings see what happened on Good Friday as discouraging, depressing, totally dispiriting. But God can turn a wooden cross into a gilded throne. God can turn heartbreak into triumph.”

tabgha loaves fishes multiplication mosaicThen the stranger proceeded to break bread with the disciples, and… Whoa! He has risen from the dead! And He’s right here! And what were we worried about?!

So the two disciples ran back to Jerusalem to tell everyone else. These two disciples, who had despaired only hours earlier, were probably saying things like, “The heavenly Father has turned the Master’s cross into a throne of glory. The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. The grave could not hold Him, and He can turn bread into His immortal flesh!”

The two probably went on and on like this, and St. Peter was saying, “Yes, I saw Him, too,” and the rest of them were like, “Sure, guys. Sure. Maybe you need to get your heads examined…” Then:

‘Peace be with you, my lads.’

OMG. It’s a ghost!

‘No. Touch the wounds. Touch the nail-marks.

“And, listen, give me some food. Getting crucified, and then rising from the dead, makes you hungry.”

What kind of savior do we think we want? Do we want some pure spirit who has nothing to do with the trials and tribulations of our human pilgrimage? Do we want an ideal for a savior? Or a theory?

Or do we want some kind of human “savior” that grows up in a mansion and goes to Harvard? The kind that wins lots of prizes during an illustrious career and then retires to Cabo San Lucas? The kind that everybody feels comfortable with? So comfortable that, when he is confronted by contradictions and threats, he backtracks in a heartbeat, saying “Oh, no, when I said the Pharisees were a hypocritical brood of vipers, I didn’t mean you…”

No.

I think we want a Messiah Who grew up a carpenter, suffered heroically for His beloved friends, conquered death by dying for the truth, and reigns supreme in a realm too sublime for us even to imagine.

That’s the real Messiah, foretold by the prophets, attested to by the Apostles, who lives with us in the breaking of the bread. The Messiah we never could have foreseen. But Who–now that He has done what the prophecies declared He must do–certainly is the best Messiah possible, the only Messiah possible, our Lord and our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Emmaus Word

“Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who doesn’t know of the things that have just taken place there?” –What things do you mean? (Luke 24:18-19)

st albans psalter road to emmaus

In addition to all His other enchanting qualities, the Lord Jesus has a perfect sense of humor. ‘What things to you mean? …Oh, you mean when I rode into the city as the Prince of Peace, only to be betrayed? You mean when a skeleton-crew Sanhedrin convicted me of blasphemy in the middle of the night? You mean when the Roman procurator staved-off a riot by letting the centurions scourge and crucify Me? You mean all that nonsense?

‘Seems like ancient history to Me now. I’ve literally been to hell and back since then. I’ve already seen Mary Magdalen…

‘Wait a minute, you men don’t believe the ladies who went to the tomb and say that it is empty? Don’t believe them? And why not? When was the last time you knew better than they? How about never?’ Continue reading “Emmaus Word”