English is such a strange language. There are some words that are identical, and when pronounced differently, do not have the same meaning. Examples are as follows: They were too close to the door to close it. The insurance was invalid for the invalid. The farm was used to produce produce. Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
Words have the power to amuse us and describe the reality present before us. After the priest consecrates the bread and wine, there are four significant words that could also serve as reasons why we have to go to Mass.
The first reason is in the word: take. There are 126 meanings of the word in the dictionary, depending on whether it is used as a noun, a verb with object, without object, and as an idiom. For idioms, we hear it used as “on the take, take for granted, take it, take it out in, take it out of, take it out on, take upon oneself and the copyrighted Catholic idiom, take up a collection.
What do we take to Mass? What we have, how we do, who we are. The envelope that we take represents some amount of what we have. It is what we give back. The way we take it on at Mass shows our feelings and situations in how we are doing. It is what our children and grandchildren take after us. And, the manner we present ourselves to God manifests who we are. In the Eucharist, we become what we are because we are what we eat.
The second reason why we have to go to Mass is the word: thanks. There are seven meanings of the word in the dictionary, depending on whether it is used as a noun, a verb with object, idiom or interjection. Just the word itself is an interjection. Thanks! It is an informal expression of gratitude, appreciation or acknowledgement.
What do we give thanks at Mass? A lot. We take many things for granted, but there are three essential gifts we can never deny: the gift of life, the gift of love and the gift of faith. Every breath we take is a reason to give thanks. Every person who loves us and whom we love is a reason to give thanks. And every creed we profess is a reason to thank God and his goodness.
The third reason and word is: breaks. There are 115 meaning of the word in the dictionary, 11 less than the word take, which could probably mean that we take more than we break. It can be used as a noun, verb with object, without object, idiom, or verb phrase. For verb phrases, we hear it used as “break away, break back and break down.”
What do we break at Mass? Symbolically we break the bread but in reality, it is ourselves that we need to break. Symbolically, we crushed the grapes and made it into wine, but in reality, it is our selfishness that we need to crush. We can never arrive at the fourth word, which is the reason for the Eucharist, unless we had been broken and unless we had been crushed.
Those who had been wounded and had been scarred by their bitter relationships in life know how it is to be broken. Those who had been down and out in their addictions and miseries feel how it is to be crushed. And those who had been left out, ignored and rejected sense how it is to be fragmented.
However, unless we had been broken like bread, unless we had been crushed and turned like wine, we will never know how it is to really share.
Which is the fourth word and reason. There are only seven meanings of the word in the dictionary, equally the same number as the word thanks. It can be used as a noun and as a verb.
What do we share at Mass? Two words. Ourselves and Jesus, who is the fifth reason why we have to be at Mass. He cannot be classified as a noun, verb phrase, verb with object, without object or idiom. The word is Jesus. Jesus is the Word.
He is not in the take, but is taken. He is in the thanks and in the giving. He is in the breaking and in the sharing.
Jesus is essentially and really present in the Holy Eucharist, where the three meanings of present come together. He is present, not absent. He is really here. He is present, not past. His presence is happening now. He is present as a gift, really given. His gift is offered and never withheld.
A miracle happens in each Mass and in every Catholic Church every day. The priest pronounces the words and with our faith, God dwells and resides in the differences of our hearts, in the strangeness of our language. Such miracle is beyond our power, but not beyond the power of God. Why do we believe this? Because Christ said so. There is eternal life in His Body. There is the fountain of life in His Blood.
At Mass, there is a lot that is to be taken, given, broken and shared. At Mass, in our taking, giving, breaking and sharing with Christ, we find a God who is not a stranger. At Mass, like some of our English words, the bread and wine may look the same as the familiar and usual bread and wine, but when pronounced differently by a priest and in a different context, they take on a different meaning. They become the Body and Blood of Christ.
26 June 2011