Thursday, June 14, 2012

Capable of Resurrection?

We are laid hold of by the Logos and for the Logos in our very bodies, in the bodily existence of our everyday life. The true liturgical action is the deed of God, and for that very reason the liturgy of faith always reaches beyond the cultic act into everyday life, which must itself become ‘liturgical’, a service for the transformation of the world.

Much more is required of the body than carrying objects around [at Mass] and other such activities. A demand is made on the body in all its involvement in the circumstances of everyday life. The body is required to become ‘capable of resurrection’, to orient itself towards the resurrection, towards the Kingdom of God, in a word: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”
Spirit of the Liturgy, 175-6

Reflection – We are called to live the Mass. The Eucharist is meant to be our life. When I say ‘our’, I am not referring to priests, or to consecrated people, or ‘serious Catholics’ (whoever they are!). I mean everyone.

There is a pattern given of what human life is meant to be, what God made it to be. That pattern is Jesus, and we see Jesus, He is most clearly revealed to us, in the liturgy. We can read Scripture and learn much about Jesus; we can pray personally and beautiful intimacy with Christ comes from that. But the deepest and fullest revelation of God in Christ comes to us neither in Scripture nor in personal prayer, but in the movement of the liturgy.

And it is just that—movement. The essential structure of the Mass is movement – bread and wine brought to the altar, given to the priest. Bread and wine elevated; words spoken; that which was bread and wine but is now Changed, moves now back to us, becomes our Food and Drink. This is God; this is Jesus; this is how we are to live.

We are to give our lives to God. We are bread and wine; we are this strange combination of solid prosaic everday-ness with wild celebration and joy, labor and toil (for the bread we eat) and ever-present yawning abyss of oblivion. Bread and wine symbolize in their complex reality the whole of human life.

And we give this to God. That is, the whole pattern of human life is to dispose our life to God’s life. Bread and wine placed on the altar in the hands of the priest; you and I placing ourselves before God in the hands of Christ. The Gospels spell out much of the concreteness of how we are to do this; that is why the Liturgy of the Word is so important. Personal prayer helps us know what God is asking of us now; that is why our personal engagement in the Mass is so important. But the essence, the structure, the reality of our life is found in this simple movement up the aisle, every time we go to Mass – the bread and wine go up.

And it is Christ who offers this bread and wine to his Father, Christ who calls down the Holy Spirit upon the gift, Christ who unites this little gift of our lives to His Gift of His life (on the night he was betrayed…). And it is Christ who does what needs doing, this transformation of bread and wine into Himself, this transformation of our little lives into a sharing in Life Itself.

Only God can do this. Only God can make our lives ‘capable of resurrection’. As I go along in life, I am more and more aware of that. I can pray on my knees for hours, work like a dog until I’m exhausted, do as much good as I can see to do to everyone always… but if God doesn’t ‘show up’… my bread is dry toast, my wine vinegar. Only God can make my life what it needs to be if it is to endure to eternal life, if it is to be any good at all, really.

So the Mass as pattern, living the liturgy, shows up for us how utterly, completely dependent we are upon God, and how utterly and totally oriented our lives are to be towards God and towards Jesus. This is the Kingdom of God; this is doing the will of the Father. And the fruit of it is that we become, truly, his Body and Blood in the world, shared out for all people, a living offering of love that becomes food and drink for our neighbour. And the fruit of that is that we become one with Christ, and so enter into his joy and the eternal wedding feast of the kingdom, the eternal liturgy where all is given and all is received, all are fed and all feed, forever.

And this is what life is about, for everyone, what God meant when he created man and woman in his image, according to his likeness.

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