July 23, 2011 - Saturday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Today's Readings

Although we do not have animal sacrifices anymore, sacrifice remains a central concept of our religion; above all is the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the altar of the Cross. This sacrifice was once and for all, so it is no longer necessary to repeat the animal sacrifices. As the Hebrews were covered by the blood of bulls to form a covenant with the Lord, so now we stand covered in the blood of Jesus Christ. The animal blood was a symbol; all along it was symbolizing the blood of Jesus Christ. The blood of animals cannot take away sins, but the blood of Jesus Christ can.

So it is that we come together each day and offer a sacrifice. We come here and are transported. Participating in the Mass brings us back to the foot of the Cross. That sacrifice was once and for all. It cannot be repeated and it does not need to be repeated. So we use the Mass as a time machine. The sacrifice of the Mass is not redoing the sacrifice of the Cross; it is a participation in the one sacrifice.

Why do we want to participate over and over again in the one sacrifice? If all we had in mind was the modern idea of sacrifice as giving up something, the sacrifice of the Mass would make no sense. If, however, we consider the original idea of sacrifice, it makes perfect sense. When the Israelites were sprinkled with blood, it symbolized their participation in the death of the animal. They deserved death because of their sins, so they constantly participated in the death of animals. We too deserve death because of our sins, so we participate in the death, not of an animal, but of Jesus Christ.

But the animals stayed dead, so if you participate in the death of animal, you stay dead spiritually, whereas Jesus Christ did not stay dead; he rose from the dead. If we participate in the death of Jesus Christ, we will rise with him. Every time we participate in Mass, we die with Jesus and rise with Jesus. This is why St. Paul could say “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.” The Cross, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, alone has the power to change us, so it very wise of us to participate daily in this sacrifice.

Some people would say that we are wasting our time each day. The reality is the opposite. Life is filled with useless activity. We eat today, and we have to eat tomorrow. We clean house today, and we have to clean again tomorrow. We earn money and spend money. What does it all add up to? Nothing. Even the work of raising children, the continuation of the human species means nothing if we will be extinct in a million years. All the running around that the world does is running in circles. Here at the Cross, we are making eternal progress.    e He hH