“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased”
Who doesn’t want to hear those words spoken about themselves. Some of us live our entire lives without ever hearing these words. Some of us have heard them often. A lot of us will never hear them again. But it must have made Jesus happy to hear the words from His Heavenly Father.
Of course God is a good father, both to Jesus and to you and me. Those of us who are human parents can use God as a role model, but we may not always measure up. As I was going over today’s readings I thought about how seldom I praise my own kids, even though no father could be prouder of his children than I am of mine.
If praise makes you and I feel good, I have to think it makes God happy too. God doesn’t need our praise. He’s surrounded with angels who sing His praises all day long. He’s God. He doesn’t need us at all. But He loves us and getting props from the people we love makes everyone feel good. If God is love, then us loving Him back must make His day.
So, here we are. It’s Sunday morning and we’re gathered in this church to give praise to God. That is why we’re here, isn’t it? “It is right to give Him thanks and praise.” But let’s be honest. Sometimes we all come up a little short in the thanks and praise department.
Just for fun, let’s take a look at the mass and ask ourselves, “am I really giving God the praise He deserves?”
We begin the mass by asking God to put us in the proper frame of mind to be in His presence. We ask Him for His mercy….three times. Then Father asks Him to forgive us our sins and bring us to everlasting life. What comes next?
“Glory to God in the highest!” “We praise you for your glory.” There’s that word. “Praise.” We finish by saying “you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ with the Holy Spirit, in the Glory of God the Father.” One God. Three persons. We praise them all. We follow that up with a prayer especially for the day and then we hear the Liturgy of the Word
When the Gospel is finished, what do we say? “Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ.”
After the homily, we praise God again in the Creed. “We believe in one God!” We should say it with a lot of enthusiasm because we’re explaining why we believe. It’s not the time to mumble, or worse, to remain silent.
Then we move on to the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The word “Eucharist” means “thanksgiving” and we begin with Father blessing God and we respond “May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands, for the praise and glory of His name.” Next we lift up our hearts to the Lord and say “it is right to give him thanks and praise.” There’s that word again. Praise.
But we’re not done. Not by a long shot. Father prays the preface of the Eucharist and then we join with all the choirs of heaven as they sing to God’s glory, Holy, holy, holy! Then Father consecrates the Eucharist. We normally use the second Eucharistic prayer which ends, “May we praise you in union with them and give you glory, through your Son, Jesus Christ.”
Following the Eucharistic prayer, we pray the prayer that Jesus taught us, the prayer that begins “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name!” The word “hallowed” means holy, sacred, or revered.
All this praise of God leads up to the high point of the mass, the reception of the body and blood of Christ. Father elevates the Body of Christ, I elevate the Blood of Christ, and all of us proclaim that God is so great that we don’t deserve to receive Him, but that through His word, our souls will be healed.
From beginning to end, the mass is all about praising God. He’s not just our reason for being here, He’s our reason for being. He deserves our thanks and praise. But do we mean what we say? Believe me, I’m including myself when I say that we often go about the mass in a half-hearted way. We’re here to receive the greatest miracle of all, the Body and Blood of Christ, in the form of bread and wine. It’s not symbolic. It’s not an empty ritual, and it’s not routine. It’s miraculous. It’s magical. And I don’t mean in some cheesy card trick magic kind of way. It’s a gift that Jesus left us when He returned to heaven. It’s as real as you and I are.
Now, if I was smart, I might just shut up now and go sit down. But, I have to tell you something. Frankly, some of you guys don’t always look like you’re here to praise God, or to receive His Body and Blood. No offense, but I look at this crowd and see some faces that seem bored, some that seem like they’d rather be some place else, some that even seem angry. Some of you come to communion looking like you’re standing in line at the DMV.
I get it. We all have bad days. That’s understandable. But what we have here, in this Church, in this parish, is the REAL PRESENCE OF JESUS CHRIST! I think sometimes we forget that.
Maybe the Church made a mistake when she coined the phrase “Sunday obligation”. Paying your taxes is an obligation. Coming to mass is a privilege. You know, a recent study found that 70% of people who call themselves “Catholic” don’t go to mass regularly. If you turn that around, only 3 out of 10 people who consider themselves Catholic can spare 45 minutes a week to praise God and receive His Body and Blood. They don’t consider it a privilege or an obligation. You know one of the top reasons they give for staying home? “Mass is boring.”
So, do me a favor. As you approach the altar today to receive Holy Communion, think about what we’re doing here. Think about the sacrifice Christ made for us and think about the gift you’re about to receive. Then, go back to your seat, get on your knees, and think about what’s just happened. I know many of you already do this, so you guys just keep it up. But if you’re one who’s gotten complacent about the mass, if you think it’s boring, I promise you that if you do this one thing, then do it again next week and the week after that, you’ll be amazed at the results.
Remember, it IS right to give Him thanks and praise.