Remember the song, My Favorite Things, from the Sound of Music?
"Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens,
bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens..."
If you were to write a list of your favorite things, how many could you come up with?
There is a great little book out entitled, 14,000 Things to be Happy About. 14,000! I recommend it because it starts us thinking about all the things we take for granted that we really should be grateful for.
We call the Mass the "Eucharist." "Eucharist" comes from a Greek word for "Gratitude." We gather at Mass to give thanks. And one of the best ways to prepare for Mass is to sit back, reflect with your family and friends, and list some of your favorite things, -- favorite people, favorite food, favorite music, favorite places you've been. There are all the gifts of nature - the sun, the moon, the stars, animals, plants. All the wonders and talents of our bodies - to see and hear and taste and touch, to dance and sing.And the wonders of our minds, to think and to speak and to learn. Preparing to Eucharist can be a lot of fun. And once we get a good list of the ordinary things to give thanks for, we then are ready to go deeper.
Deeper. Let me explain. The most singular event in the Old Testament was the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt to the Promised Land. And the most imposing figure of the Exodus was Moses. He was the leader, the hero, the holy man of God. In chapter 34 of the book of Exodus we read about how Moses would enter the presence of the Lord and actually converse with him. When Moses came away from this conversation his face would be radiant, and he would put a veil over his face. When the others noticed how radiant the skin of Moses' face was, they were afraid to go near him.
Imagine.conversing with God and being the spokesperson for God to his people. Moses was chosen. Moses was special. Moses was blessed.
But. Although Moses heard God speak, he didn't hear the words of Jesus, who is the Word of God. We have the fullness of God's revelation in Jesus.
Moses ate manna in the desert which fed him physically, but he didn't have the Body of Christ, the Bread of life, to feed his soul. We do.
Although Moses was a good friend of God, Moses did not enter into union with God.as we do when we receive Holy Communion. .That's what I mean by going deeper.
Another major prophet was John the Baptist. John was truly a maverick. A strong, holy, humble and committed man. And Jesus praised him. He said, "There is no greater man born of woman than John the Baptist." Then Jesus added, "But the least born into the kingdom of heaven is greater than he."
Born into the kingdom. He was talking about baptism. John was great. Greater greatness is given to those baptized into Christ Jesus. That's us. We are now members of his body. We are united with Christ.
Sometimes we take life and our faith for granted. The Mass gives us the opportunity to pause and reflect on all the ordinary and all the extraordinary blessings we have received.
The long prayer in the middle of the Mass is called the Eucharistic Prayer. It begins with the Preface. I say,
"The Lord be with you." And you respond, "And also with you." "Lift up your hearts."
"We have lifted them up to the Lord."
"Let us give thanks to the Lord our God."
"It is right to give him thanks and praise."
The preface continues, reminding us of some truths of our faith.
We respond, "Holy, Holy, Holy..." The prayer continues. The bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ. We proclaim, "Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again."
We remember that because of Christ's death and resurrection, we have the forgiveness of our sins. We have meaning to our suffering. We have food for the journey. And we have hope of eternal life.
At the end of the Eucharistic Prayer, the priest says or sings, "Through him, with him, in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, Almighty Father, forever and ever." The congregation responds, "Amen!" In ancient Rome St. Jerome said the sound of that "Amen" would rock the nearby pagan temples! They were such a grateful people. We should be no less. We should at least rock the walls of the church. If we lost our voices, how could we express our gratitude? We could clap our hands until they hurt. But we have our voices. We need to look deeper, feel gratitude more deeply, and not be afraid to express it.
Jesus said, "Do this in memory of me." Do not forget me. Do not forget my great love, shown by my death on the cross for you. That's why we gather here at Mass. To remember and give thanks.
For our favorite things,
For the fullness of revelation in Jesus,
For Holy Communion,
For Jesus' death and resurrection,
For God's great love for us... "Amen... Amen... Amen!"