Holy Mass at Christmas Time
|Edward Holloway FAITH Magazine November-December 2008
From the Esher Parish newsletter for December 22nd, 1985
A teenager far from this area complained to me recently that he was being taught about the Mass in a way which was an awful rigmarole, and bored everybody. He was given endless themes about family celebrations and what have you, and by the time you arrive at God you have long ceased to bother. Try it this way: the Disciples trudged out every day to meet Jesus. They went out because they were drawn by his teaching, his works, and grew to love Him. As they walked with Him and became ‘committed’, they were also fed within their very souls by Him, growing deeper, wiser, nobler and more courageous of spirit. Perhaps they did not realise at the time that Jesus was feeding them, and was working as the food and life of their inward souls. But it was a fact, and they came to realise it more lateron. For Jesus Christ was God become man, not simply the greatest of men whom we call ‘God’. At the end of his earthly life Christ brought all this to a climax, and you can read about it in the 6th chapter of St. John’s Gospel, where He explained just how He was the very Bread of Life.
Jesus brought it to a climax at the Last Supper, on the eve of his betrayal and Passion. He loved his own ‘to the uttermost’ giving them Himself as the food and life of their soul, and of their bodies in so far as we hope for the resurrection of the body. He is, and He always was the Life of their spiritual being, and by giving his whole self, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, under the appearances of bread and wine, He gave his whole being which is quickened by his Divinity, to be the nourishment and growth in wisdom and goodness of us his people.
It is much the same now. On a cold morning we trudge out to meet Jesus. We join Him in prayer at the entrance antiphon, we listen to Him in the readings and the Gospel. The priest (poor wretch, for who can stand in for Christ?) preaches the word of life, the teaching of Jesus, and the same Jesus works with that preaching, quickening the souls of his people, and making up for the inadequacies of the human preacher.
At the bidding prayer the congregation makes its needs known to Jesus, as the apostles often did. In the Eucharistic prayer, the priest, in the Person of Christ, praises the Father for all his mercies and faithfulness, down the years of creation, and the pain of human sin, until taking it up to Christ in Person he hails Our Lord as Saviour and Redeemer, and enters into Christ’s final gift, with the very words of ‘consecration’.
Then the Divinity descends on bread, as Christ did into the womb of Mary, and this bread is now Jesus, even as that Man was God made man. In Holy Communion He feeds us fully as only God can feed the soul, and in receiving Him our own bodies are promised a share in eternity with Christ’s own glorious body. Then, through his priest, Jesus blesses and dismisses the multitude in his peace. So, we live again the life of the disciples, and we summarise again in the Mass and Holy Communion, the life and work of Christ, and our fullness of blessing in Him. Remember it when you come to Mass and Holy Communion on Christmas Day. You trudge out for the birthday of Jesus. Take Him home with you.