From the Pastor – November 7, 2021

“Christ did not enter into a sanctuary made by hands, a copy of the true one, but heaven itself, that he might now appear before God on our behalf.  Not that he might offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters each year into the sanctuary with blood that is not his own; if that were so, he would have had to suffer repeatedly from the foundation of the world. But now once for all he has appeared at the end of the ages to take away sin by his sacrifice.” (Heb. 9:24-26)

Every Sunday, something important happens in our parish.  The event is centered on the “Paschal Mystery.”

What is the Paschal Mystery?  Simply put, the Paschal Mystery is the suffering, death, Resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus Christ.  When the Jews were slaves in Egypt, God told them to slaughter a lamb in the evening twilight and to place its blood on the two posts and the lintels of their houses.  Seeing the blood, the Lord would “pass over” their homes in striking down the first-born of the Egyptians, and they would be released from their slavery. (Ex. 12).

The lambs which saved the Jewish people are commemorated in the Jewish feast of Passover, and the lamb was called the passover lamb, or “paschal” lamb in Hebrew.  The meaning of this event and its prophecy were revealed in the first-born Son of God, who allowed Himself to be slaughtered in the evening twilight with His blood dripping down the cross to save us from slavery to an eternal death due to sin.  In doing so (in the words of John the Baptist), Jesus was the “Lamb of God.”

The mystery of a God who loves us so much that He would become a man and suffer and die so that we might rise with Him is what makes up the mystery.  That is the mystery that we proclaim with the cross of Christ, and that is the mystery in which we participate at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, where we enter into the Paschal Mystery by remembering it and receiving the Lamb of God as the Bread of Life in the Holy Eucharist.

So what is the event that happens each week?  Clearly, it’s the Sacrifice of the Mass, itself.  Sometimes we can be overly preoccupied with the homily at Mass or seeing our friends or listening to the music.  The above Scriptural selection from Hebrews reminds us that Jesus died once and for all as an offering to God so that our sins could be forgiven.  And since the sacrificial offering was made by the Son of God, it exists forever and for all time.  At Mass, we don’t simply “remember” what Jesus did 2000 years ago.  At Mass we participate in that saving event by being in the presence of the Lord in the Eucharist, and by doing what He commanded us to do:  to eat His body and drink His blood so that the angel of death might pass over us, also.  Our proclamation of that great mystery of love with the sign of the cross, and our participation in the mystery through Eucharist and the Sacrifice of the Mass point to our salvation in Heaven!

(Rev. Msgr.) Christopher H. Nalty