At the chapel where I say my daily Mass the other priests that use that chapel often leave a small crucifix in front of their place at the center of the altar. It is a reminder for them that the sacrifice of the Mass is really the re-enactment of the death Jesus died for us.
As fine a thought as that is, I don’t put a figure of Christ on the cross before me. Although Jesus completed his sacrifice on the cross, we should not forget that he began it at the Last Supper.
At the Last Supper Jesus followed the traditional table blessing for the feast, It began with his asking all present to call to mind the favors they have received from God. Next, it had him asking the diners to join him in calling down God’s presence.
As the third, culminating part of that blessing, Jesus asked the diners to join him in becoming one pleasing gift to God.
The priest and all who are present at Mass have an essential role to play there. They must join Jesus in one act of submission to God’s will in all things. It is at that point in the table blessing that Jesus gives himself to us in communion. He wants us to be physically one with him as part of the pleasing gift. The Greek name for the pleasing gift is the Eucharist.
So, although it is good for us at Mass to realize that Christ’s sacrifice will end on the cross, we shouldn’t neglect to take part in the pleasing gift with which that sacrifice began.