Understanding Our Church

A Treasury of Arkansas Writers Discussing the Catholic Faith

Jesus offers himself to us and we offer ourselves to him in Mass

Published: September 14, 2019

By Jeff Hines
Trinity Junior High School

Have you ever asked yourself this question: “Why should I go to Mass?” Be honest. Life is hectic. Before a new week begins, wouldn’t it be great to sleep in, hang out and just relax? You may ask yourself, “Why should I go?”

More and more people, especially young people, are not finding a good answer to the question. Half of Catholics 30 and younger have left the Church, according to Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron, speaking to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops June 11.

We need a good answer. We need to be able to recall it and state it simply, in a few words. It needs to be a true and real reason, a reason given to us by Christ, by the Scriptures, by the apostles and by the Church. Do we have such a reason?

Don’t go to Mass for someone else. Do it for yourself. When you offer yourself to God in the Mass, your enthusiasm is renewed. (“Lumen Gentium,” no. 37) The effect of going to Mass is like sap rising. You don’t know it’s happening until the fruit appears.

Let’s start with our Lord and see what he said. In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus gave bread and wine to the disciples and said, “I tell you, I shall not drink this fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it with you new in the kingdom of my Father.” Jesus said, “Do this in memory of me.”

The disciples eventually understood this, with the coming of the Holy Spirit. He wants them to do this ritual and keep doing it. Do it in memory of him, and do it with him.

Let’s look at the early Church. “They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers.” (Acts 2:42) This is what we now call “the Mass.” The first Christians devoted themselves, they gave themselves, by going. The apostle Paul tells us to offer ourselves to God; it is our spiritual worship. (Romans 12:1)

Fast forward to 1964 — the Second Vatican Council sought to renew the Church for the modern world. In “Lumen Gentium,” paragraphs 34-38, in the section on lay people, the Council tells us what to do: offer ourselves in the eucharistic celebration.

Go to Mass to offer yourself to God. Offer your daily work, your family life, your friends, your recreation, your suffering. Bring everything to Jesus when you go to Mass. Do you get distracted in Mass? Distractions become material to offer to him. When you’re in Mass and you start thinking about work, offer it to God. When you start thinking about lunch, offer it to God.

Don’t go to Mass for someone else. Do it for yourself. When you offer yourself to God in the Mass, your enthusiasm is renewed. (“Lumen Gentium,” no. 37) The effect of going to Mass is like sap rising. You don’t know it’s happening until the fruit appears.

The last chapter of John’s Gospel tells a story that illustrates what life is like when we offer ourselves to God. After experiencing Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection, the disciples went fishing (went to work). At first, they did not catch anything. But then Jesus was with them, and the catch was right there where they were working.

That’s the way it is with us. We experience Jesus’ life, death and resurrection in the Mass, and he helps us in our daily life. Next time you ask yourself, “Why should I go to Mass?”, you will do well to answer with this: “Jesus offers himself to me. I go to offer myself to him.”

Understanding Our Church

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