VOICE FROM THE SOUTH
By FR. EMETERIO BARCELON, SJ
Jesus loved us first. He was willing to endure His Passion in order to make up for our transgressions and make up for us with His Father in heaven. He offered His life for us. It is a mystery why He loved us. But love us He did. His passion started in the garden of Gethsemane where He foresaw the suffering He would endure for our sake. Just the thought of it made Him sweat with blood.
He was crowned with thorns and insulted. He carried the wood of the cross and in His weakness fell down three times. He was nailed to the Cross and died. All this was to reconcile us with the Father. Because He loved us and all He wants is our love in return.
We all know this. Some Evangelical Protestants outdo the Catholics is making this return of love. In general some Protestants seem to return this love more fervently. I am sure there are also many Catholics who return this love to the full extent. The story ends with His rising from the dead. With Him we all will rise from the dead.
In return, all He asks of us is to love Him. How to express this love? We pray in worship and keep asking Him for the things that we need or want. He tells us that the best way to love Him is to obey His commandments and requests. They are simple. Love God above all things and our neighbor as ourselves. More specifically He asks us to honor our father and mother. And not to kill or tell lies, or commit adultery, or to steal. Beyond that is a question of whatever else we can offer.
As an Evangelical once said to a Catholic: “If I really believed that the Host in the Eucharist is God then I would be kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament night and day.” However, the Lord wants us to sanctify our daily lives so that it is equivalent to prostrating ourselves before the Blessed Sacrament. We want to turn our daily actions as adoration and worship of the Lord. In the morning offering we present to God a representation of our ordinary actions as gifts of adoration and love.
When we love someone we try to please him or her. We give him or her gifts. As St Ignatius says, we express our love not only in words but in deeds. We go out our way to express that love. When we give gifts, the gift represent us. Since we cannot put ourselves on a platter, we put a representative of ourselves. We give a ring or a flower. We offer bread and wine at Mass as a representative of our being and of the work that we do.
At Mass the host or the bread and the wine represent us to God as our gifts to Him. He then takes them by the magical words of the priest transforms them into Himself. And this with all the community we offer to the Father. What more precious and pleasing gift can we offer to the Father than His own Son. The Mass we attend is really a miraculous ceremony. We offer Jesus to God the Father. We offer God to God for our behalf. It is truly a wonderful mystery.
In the end it is all about love, our love for God because He loved us first. And all He wants us in return is our love. We offer everything that we do and are. We offer to God our all in union with His Son. Nothing can be more pleasing to the Father. We offer our puny selves in union with the everlasting and eternal Son. The Mass at times may feel like a boring repetition. But in fact it is joining our puny selves and effort to that of the eternal and wondrous Savior, Jesus on the Cross. The Mass is the mystery that encapsulates us and Jesus in an offering to God our Father.
Lord we want to love you with all our hearts, with all our minds, with all our body and soul. Help us to make this a reality. We want to love you and your Son Jesus. Love Jesus. <[email protected]>