In Deus Caritas Est, Pope Benedict speaks about every "encounter" with Christ as one "which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction." I would like to propose that the Mass is an Epiphany; an opportunity to encounter a God who always reveals himself to those who seek him with all their hearts (Jeremiah 29:13).
Like you and me, Jesus Christ has a transformative effect in our lives when we encounter Him (speak to Him, listen to Him) and so often after a search, the perennial search that marks our own epiphany journeys each and every day of our lives. The challenge is to allow that transformative effect, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to draw each one of us more closely to Him each and every day and to share with others the saving power of our God. We can never exactly retrace our paths in life. There is always a new path for us, a new star that leads us ever anew, to the Christ born for us, born to make us holy and the grace to help us grow in holiness. Hahn Scott in his book, “The Lamb’s Supper” describes the Mass Heaven on Earth. If this definition is apt, then it is an undeniable fact that the Mass is really an encounter with God. The Mass is not merely a ritual, but an event, a point of contact where Jesus Christ approaches you to change your life. I wish in this paper from time to time to you pull into the parking lot for Mass, until you walk out the doors after the final blessing. I will examine the three aspect of the Mass to unravel this mystery namely sacrifice, the Word of God and prayerful reading of scripture and forgiveness and mission.
First, like the Magi, the Mass is holy exchanges of gifts .We are called to pay Him homage, to worship Him. "Lord, every nation on earth will adore you." This happens every time we worship Him at holy Mass—each and every Sunday without exception and during the week. They brought gold, frankincense and myrrh. We bring ourselves. And there is a holy exchange of gifts. The Mass is about an exchange of gifts. We exchange gifts each time we offer ourselves at Mass, gifts represented by the bread and wine--work of human hands--gifts which are then transformed into His body and blood at the Eucharist, truly a wondrous exchange of gifts, an exchange which transforms us into Him and challenges us to live more love-filled lives by His enduring and real presence in the Eucharist. If Jesus will transform mere bread and wine into his own Body and Blood, then during our encounter with him in the Eucharist, he wants to transform us into holy instruments because we are more dignified than mere bread and wine for we have been created in the image and likeness of God. This is replicated in the ITE MISSA EST (GO THE MASS IS ENDED). When we are transformed by him, he sends us out to be instruments of transformation in our society.
Second, His Word pinpointed the exact place of His birth-- "in Bethlehem of Judea." His living Word always and continually reveals God and His presence to us. We encounter the living God in our daily and prayerful study of Sacred Scripture. His Word transforms us into Him and we speak that word and are challenged daily to live that word and give witness courageously to that Word in the power of the Holy Spirit. (Deuteronomy 30:10-14).
Thirdly, the Mass is an encounter with a Holy God. Our presence at Mass immediately evokes a feeling of our unworthiness. That is why the only Sacrifice that is acceptable to God is the Sacrifice of Jesus himself, a re-presentation of the sacrifice on the cross of Calvary. We live in a world that needs Jesus than ever. Pope Benedict XVI says that the solution to the problems of humanity today is Jesus. He says again that "all the more, since the society in which [we live] has become more complex and the threats to [our] personal and moral integrity have become more insidious." wrenching and persistent pull away from God has become the order of the day. We call it sin, the occasion of sin. For you and me, now is time this year to accept ever anew Jesus as our Lord and Savior, to admit at the core of our existence the need for Jesus in our daily lives, to become more and more children of the light and welcome daily His light. To encounter Him means to allow Him to save us from ourselves, our selfishness, our sinfulness, yes, to admit to our sinfulness for "If we acknowledge our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins." It means to allow Him to heal us frequently in the great sacrament of healing, the sacrament of confession. “If God’s covenant makes us his family, then sin means more than a broken law. It means broken lives and a broken home. Sin comes from our refusal to keep the covenant, our refusal to love God as much as he loves us. Through sin, we abandon our status as children of God. Sin kills the divine life in life in us.” He is the Savior of the world and the world needs a Savior, the same Savior the Magi adored and we adore, and it begins with each one of us.
Finally, this feast of the Epiphany has a clear missionary dimension. They came in three and they left together in three albeit "by another way." Each of us is challenged by this feast to share the faith with one another each and every day. We never walk alone. The Good News is not a private venture, but by its very nature, news is meant to be shared, especially good news, and shared with a sense of zeal. "They were overjoyed at seeing the star and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother." Joy is meant to be shared with a world, with concrete individuals, in a world so much in need of joy, a world in need of unity, reconciliation and love. That is our faith pure and simple. The more we share it, the more we live it with deep joy. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta says that when we encounter Jesus, we cannot afford to keep him to ourselves. A true encounter with Jesus leads us towards Christian action namely to tell people about Jesus and the salvation he brings to us.
In each of these four ways—through the Eucharist, the Word of God in scripture, the sacrament of confession and the call to evangelization--this great Sacrifice of the Son of God himself can have a lasting effect in our lives.