At Mass we must renounce all our hang-ups.

Sunday, 9/8/13

The Gospel ends up with Jesus saying, “Anyone who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.”

He could be telling you to give up your car or your house or your bank account. But I don’t think he is. You need your car to get to work. The hotel bills would be too high if you gave up your house, and your family wouldn’t want to keep writing checks for you if you gave up your bank account.

It is more likely that the possessions Jesus wants you to give up are intangible things: like the grudges you harbor, or the lazy habits that keep you from lending a helping hand, or your not admitting to faults that you hide from yourself rather than own up to them.

I believe that for you and me this Mass might be the time for us to renounce all those ugly hang-ups. Really, that is what hearing Mass is for. It’s for giving up your hang-ups. Please put up with me as I reach way back in history to retrieve the lost meaning of hearing Mass.

The main prayer our priests offer at Mass grew out of the blessing Jesus offered at the Last Supper. While using his own words that evening, according to the Gospels,  Jesus, as the host, led the disciples through the traditional table blessing.

That blessing always consisted of the same three parts. First, the host led the diners in recalling God’s many favors. Secondly, he asked God to send down his spirit to unite them and to equip them to speak back to him.

The third part of the blessing was called the “Pleasing Gift.” By it the host and all the diners were meant to unite in renouncing their faults, while offering God the pleasing gift of their total submission to him.

Now, those people all knew that third part, the Pleasing Gift, by its Greek name, which was the Eucharist. While we use the word Eucharist to designate Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, it should refer to all of us united with him. If we are not part of it, the Mass is useless for us.

Jesus comes to us under the form of bread so that we can become one with him in an act of total submission to the Father.    

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