Summary: The New Mass gives us an opportunity to show to the world the earthly celebration of the heavenly banquet--the wedding of the Lamb and His Bride.

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33rd Sunday in Course

13 November 2011

Spirit of the Liturgy

Stewart the Steward was patting himself on the back. His boss, a hard man without an ounce of patience or forgiveness, was returning today from a long business trip, during which he had bought and sold several companies. In the course of that trip he also put ten thousand people out of work and made a billion dollars, even in a horrible economy. Stewart had been one of three employees entrusted with his millions during his absence. The first had been given ten million dollars to manage; the second, five million; and Stewart, only one. All had gotten busy with their research. He had sat through Bernie Madoff’s spiel, and Jerry Corzine’s presentation for MF Financial. Stewart was certain that his competitors had put all their money with those two discredited people, and just as certain that they had lost all or most of the cash. Stewart was a gold bug, and since his boss gave him the million in gold coins, all he had to do was bury it someplace safe, and wait for the inevitable uptick.

But what is this? Employee One made his report. He bought Apple stock high, and it went higher–even doubled. The boss, obviously pleased, gave him a big promotion. Employee Two did the same, doubling his money by selling the Euro short. Stewart gulped. The big gold run-up had stalled, and the coins he had carefully hoarded were worth the same as they were when he got them. Stewart was put out on the street in the midst of the worst jobs market of his lifetime, and he could forget a letter of recommendation.

Sometimes we game our position, thinking that all we have to do is beat the perceived competition in order to win. Two guys were out walking in the prairie, and both spied a mountain lion, just as the mountain lion saw them and began its pursuit. The first fellow knelt down and began to tie on his running shoes. The second looked at him and said, “what are you doing? You’ll never be able to outrun that lion.” The first replied, “I don’t need to outrun the lion.”

But the spiritual life is not like that. It’s not a competition in which all we have to do is show ourselves better than murderers, embezzlers and child molesters. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, as St. Paul reminds us. There’s no sleeping on the job, no surrender to the “dark side of the Force.” All of us, in our individual ways, know that we are weak and sinful. That’s why we are here. The Holy Eucharist, the Mass, is not a celebration of how wonderful we are. It is a clinic for the sickness of sin. We come here because we have spent some of the time last week in minor darkness–what we call venial sin–and need the light of Christ to burn that darkness out. We come, hungry for real food, because we have been stuffing ourselves with spiritual potato chips and avoiding our spiritual vegetables. And the Father, who gives the real food for eternal life, gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit here through the reception of the Body and Blood of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

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