Summary: Liturgy is a celebration of the presence of God in our midst, and we respond by participating in the dialogue between the Bride and the Bridegroom
Monday of the 13th Week in Course
The presence of the Lord changes everything. We see this today when we recall the presence of God to Abraham on the eve of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, a catastrophe caused by their widespread acceptance of sexual abuse. But for the absence of ten righteous, the whole area was consumed by fire. We see it in the lives of the two men who wanted to follow Jesus. To be with Christ is enough–we need no magnificent home or bedroom, we value everything, even family, of less account than our relationship with Him. That would have been particularly important to the community Matthew was writing to, a community in which Jewish family members were probably hounding the early Christian converts about their devotion to the Messiah.
We see it most especially in tomorrow’s Gospel, when a great storm blows the apostles’ boat about and Jesus, secure in Himself and His mission, is asleep at the back of the boat. He rises and calms the wind and waves. His presence is enough to bring peace even to those internally troubled by physical pain or mental anguish. The prayer card we often see with the Divine Mercy says it all–Jesus, I trust in you.
The Council Fathers, in the Constitution on the Liturgy, recalled the work of universal redemption and sanctification that Jesus worked in the human family, and the application of that mystery in our space and time. ‘To accomplish so great a work, Christ is always present in His Church, especially in her liturgical celebrations. He is present in the sacrifice of the Mass, not only in the person of His minister, "the same now offering, through the ministry of priests, who formerly offered himself on the cross" but especially under the Eucharistic species. By His power He is present in the sacraments, so that when a man baptizes it is really Christ Himself who baptizes He is present in His word, since it is He Himself who speaks when the holy scriptures are read in the Church. He is present, lastly, when the Church prays and sings, for He promised: "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matt. 18:20) .’
The Church, they remind us, is the Bride of Christ, who calls to Her Lord and through Him offers worship to the Eternal Father. Our song is a love song, a song that sings to and through the Word of God using the words of God.
Sometimes that bridal dialogue is public, so that all who do not believe in Christ can be attracted to the bridal relationship, and turn their lives over to Christ in His Church. Sometimes it is very personal and intimate, as when the priest in the Extraordinary Form prays the Eucharistic Prayer in a sacred language so softly that only the altar servers can hear. Sometimes the bridal dialogue is verbal, but sometimes it expresses itself most eloquently with non-verbals: we strike our breast when we admit our sins–through MY fault. We bow or kneel in the Profession of Faith when we recall that first moment of salvation when the Word became flesh. We open our mouth silently when we take the gift of the divine presence as our food. So, whenever you pray, in liturgy or in private, begin by making an act of faith in the presence of the Lord, and participate in the bridal dialogue he has begun with us.