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Why Mass is important

By Fr. Bel R. San Luis, SVD

A distinguished anthropologist visited a Bantu village in South Africa to inquire into the customs and habits of the people. Although primitive and without the influence of Western culture, these peaceful folks welcomed and received him most cordially.

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When the anthropologist returned home, he sent the people a sundial, a large clock powered by the sun, as an expression of his deep gratitude and appreciation. At the same time this would help the people to tell the time more accurately.

The natives were so grateful. But in their eagerness to preserve the gift for a long time, they covered it with a thatched roof to protect it from the sun and the rain! In effect, it became just a sentimental keepsake.

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Today is the feast of “Corpus Christi,” a Latin term which means literally the “Body of Christ.” The feast commemorates our Lord giving his Body and Blood as a privileged gift. It seems, however, that we don’t appreciate it enough – even if God the Giver is the Gift – much like the African Bantu tribe who failed to appreciate the gift of the sundial.

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“Why does the Catholic church put so much importance on the Eucharist or the Mass? Why not try other kinds of creative worship, like praying while communing with nature or in the quiet of your room? Or while commuting in the LRT or making your devotion in a quiet, idyllic shrine? After all, “God is everywhere,” one would say.

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That’s true, indeed. However, it’s specifically in the Mass wherein through the priest’s words of Consecration, the mysterious transformation from ordinary bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus happens and this is called “Transubstantiation.”

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Why do we believe that this really happens? Because Christ clearly said so at the Last Supper: “This is my Body,” not “This is the symbol of my Body.”

His presence is not merely symbolic but real, actual and physical. Can you imagine the miracle happening each time the Mass is celebrated!

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Christ promised to give his Flesh to eat and his Blood to drink. When the Jews heard this, many of them shook their heads in disbelief, saying: “This is intolerable language.” Today people would call it cannibalism.

Although very sad at the Jews’ turning away, Jesus did not take back his words. He didn’t say: “Hey, come back. I only meant it as a figure of speech!”

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Moreover, Jesus told us to come together at the Eucharist doing it “IN MEMORY OF ME” (Lk 22,19-20).

If it’s the order of the Lord, who are we to question? After all, it’s all for our own good.

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However, we often fail to realize its value or appreciate it enough. One reason is because of our lack of faith. For instance, someone once joked: “I think I receive God the Father in my communion.” “Why,” he was asked. “Because the host was ‘makunat’ (tough).”

We have to look at the Eucharist with faith, saying “Lord, you have the words of eternal life and we have come to believe.”

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Today’s celebration of “Corpus Christi” is an opportunity to renew our faith in the Eucharist. We do this by faithfully attending Mass and, above all, receiving Christ’s Body and Blood.

In the Eucharist, we receive no less than Jesus Christ Himself.

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