Amen, amen, I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it yields much fruit. Whoever loves his life, will lose it. And whoever hates his life in this world, preserves it unto eternal life. If anyone serves me, let him follow me. And where I am, there too my minister shall be. If anyone has served me, my Father will honour him. (John 12,24-26)
POINT 26: THE GOSPEL OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST IS THE GOSPEL OF THE CROSS
When we think of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the most blessed sacrament (holy communion), we call to mind the popular constructs on this matter “that Jesus Christ who is God died to set me free therefore I am entitled to a life of power and convenience from God” But how far this common notion is from the truth about what the gospel is. Yes, Jesus Christ died to redeem us but we are not free in the sense of living as we please but rather we have to live as Jesus Christ who has paid for us wants. Taking a look at the gospels let us see what Christ our redeemer is demanding of us:
“And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so also must the Son of man be lifted up, so that whoever believes in him may not perish, but may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that all who believe in him may not perish, but may have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world, in order to judge the world, but in order that the world may be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not judged. But whoever does not believe is already judged, because he does not believe in the name of the only-begotten Son of God. And this is the judgment: that the Light has come into the world, and men loved darkness more than light. For their works were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light and does not go toward the Light, so that his works may not be corrected. But whoever acts in truth goes toward the Light, so that his works may be manifested, because they have been accomplished in God.” (John 3,14-21)
“Amen, amen, I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it yields much fruit. Whoever loves his life, will lose it. And whoever hates his life in this world, preserves it unto eternal life. If anyone serves me, let him follow me. And where I am, there too my minister shall be. If anyone has served me, my Father will honour him. (John 12,24-26)
Saying, “For the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and the leaders of the priests and the scribes, and be killed, and on the third day rise again.” Then he said to everyone: “If anyone is willing to come after me: let him deny himself, and take up his cross every day, and follow me. For whoever will have saved his life, will lose it. Yet whoever will have lost his life for my sake, will save it. For how does it benefit a man, if he were to gain the whole world, yet lose himself, or cause himself harm? For whoever will be ashamed of me and of my words: of him the Son of man will be ashamed when he will have arrived in his majesty and that of his Father and of the holy Angels.” (Luke 9,22-26)
“Now great crowds travelled with him. And turning around, he said to them: “If anyone comes to me, and does not hate his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brothers, and sisters, and yes, even his own life, he is not able to be my disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after me, is not able to be my disciple. Therefore, everyone of you who does not renounce all that he possesses is not able to be my disciple. Salt is good. But if the salt has lost its flavour, with what will it be seasoned? It is useful neither in soil, nor in manure, so instead, it shall be thrown away. Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear.” (Luke 14,25-27.33-35)
‘Lord, are they few that are saved? But he said to them: Strive to enter by the narrow gate; for many, I say to you, shall seek to enter, and shall not be able.’ (Luke 13:23-24)
‘Love not the world, nor the things which are in the world. If any man love the world, the charity of the Father is not in him.’ (1 John 2:15)
It seems as though Christ is calling us to a life of slavery and suffering instead, and rightly so because we are to be purified so that we can enter into God’s divine life of love here on earth and then in heaven. God does not purify a soul through any other means except suffering, he never does! The reason is that we are all called to love and to love is to sacrifice which is enduring suffering to give the true and ultimate good to the one that is beloved.
The saints also had the following to say concerning our commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ:
“We always find that those who walked closest to Christ were those who had to bear the greatest trials.”
– St. Teresa of Avila 
It is not those who commit the least faults who are the holiest, but those who have the greatest courage, the greatest generosity, the greatest love, who make the boldest efforts to overcome themselves, and are not immediately apprehensive about tripping.
– St. Francis de Sales 
“What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.”
-St. Augustine of Hippo 
“Love to be real, it must cost, it must hurt, it must empty us of self.”
-St Teresa of Calcutta 
“What a weakness it is to love Jesus Christ only when He caresses us, and to be cold immediately once He afflicts us. This is not true love. Those who love thus, love themselves too much to love God with all their heart.”
-St. Margaret Mary Alacoque 
‘The person who loves God cannot help loving every man as himself, even though he is grieved by the passions of those who are not yet purified. But when they amend their lives, his delight is indescribable and knows no bounds. A soul filled with thoughts of sensual desire and hatred is unpurified. If we detect any trace of hatred in our hearts against any man whatsoever for committing any fault, we are utterly estranged from love for God, since love for God absolutely precludes us from hating any man.’
-St. Maximos the Confessor 
What is the mark of love for your neighbour? Not to seek what is for your own benefit, but what is for the benefit of the one loved, both in body and in the soul.
-St. Basil the Great 
You know well enough that Our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions, nor even at their difficulty, but at the love with which we do them.
-Saint Therese of Lisieux 
Remember that nothing is small in the eyes of God. Do all that you do with love.
– St. Therese of Lisieux 
Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love.
– St. Therese of Lisieux 
Sufferings gladly borne for others convert more people than sermons.
– St. Therese of Lisieux 
POINT 27: THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST HEADS TO THE TRUTH OF HIM BECOMING HOLY COMMUNION (THE MOST BLESSED SACRAMENT)
It’s a thing to watch out for, nothing in this world is worth more merit than a single mass, nothing delights God more. A thousand years of impeccable sinlessness and righteous service does not even compare because the sacrifice of the mass is that of Christ; the infinitely perfect one which is given to God in our name; those who partake and offer it. One single mass gives more honour to God than all the righteous things human beings have ever done since the beginning of time and all we will ever do till the end of the world; all of it put together does not compare to a mass. Yet out of unfathomable love for us God allows us to offer Him this infinite honour in our name not just once in our lives but as often as weekly and even daily. (Fr Wolfe from the works of St Alphonsus).
The mass is what our whole faith in God is about, it is the centre of all existence, the summit of our faith. It helped me appreciate it when I understood what it was, many of us do not contemplate it or know it at all.
The first thing to understand and contemplate is this: What do you think God is? Our father and creator. That’s who. The question asked is “what?” ‘What’ sounds like a ‘thing’ right? Yes, it does but that question is a question of exposition of the nature of an existing being. Our answer tends towards this “he is a supreme being, a deity.” But what is the supreme being? Why do we call it a supreme being? ‘Supreme’ is ‘highest’ or ‘greatest’ of an outstanding kind. Yes, but highest in what sense? What is or are the reason(s) for it being called highest? We may answer that “in greatness, goodness and every other thing except evil he is the highest,” Yes, it is so, God is: 1) True perfection even well beyond our imagination, 2) Immeasurable in all attributes He holds well beyond our understanding, 3) Completely in charge of all existence, living and non living things. Spirit and material things. In charge of any and every created thing in a way, we cannot fathom. Therefore God is absolute, God is infinite, God is perfection, God is absolute infinite perfection. That’s the thing He is. It’s not just his attributes, it is his “nature”. The same can be done for humans, what thing is a human being? And that would be used to sought out our nature. Now that we know the concept of what God is, let’s contemplate this: In the face of infinity does 100 million mean anything? No, Ok. In the face of infinity does 100000 x 1000000 mean anything? No? Correct. In the face of infinity everything finite means nothing, this is the reason we cannot earn salvation because we who are finite are going to the face of infinity. So by implication we do not measure up? Yes, with our sin we severed our relationship with God who is infinity and by our effort alone we can never ever attain infinity. Not just that we don’t measure, we honestly don’t count. In the face of infinity all finite means nothing. You see why by justice nothing we will ever do can count in infinity’s face to win us meriting Him. Even if we are reborn a billion times and lived perfectly impeccable those 999 million times after now, on our own our effort counts for nothing. The sacrifice of Christ is the only thing that could win us that merit why? Because finally! Infinity has met its match! It has met what it is worthy of; absolute infinite perfection too. The sacrifice of Christ which is absolute infinite perfection because he is God is given to us in order for us to give to God. This sacrifice of Christ is made available to us in the mass so that we should offer to God that one supreme sufficient infinite sacrifice which fully satisfies infinity. And we are given this unbelievable privilege through God’s Divine mercy so that we may gain merits in Him. You see how one single Mass gives more honour to God than all human righteousness can ever bring about even if we compiled it all from the beginning of time to the end of time.
So dearly beloved do all to make sure nothing stops you from partaking in our Lord’s infinite sacrifice given to God for you. Partake in the sacrifice, contemplate it, assimilate it, appreciate it and enter into it and let our Lord live in you through it.
This sacrifice which is made available to us at mass is truly the power of the incarnation extended to us, the same Jesus Christ himself totally physically present as scripture says:
I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate manna in the desert, and they died. This is the bread which descends from heaven, so that if anyone will eat from it, he may not die. I am the living bread, who descended from heaven. If anyone eats from this bread, he shall live in eternity. And the bread that I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world.” Therefore, the Jews debated among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” And so, Jesus said to them: “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you will not have life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father has sent me and I live because of the Father, so also whoever eats me, the same shall live because of me. This is the bread that descends from heaven. It is not like the manna that your fathers ate, for they died. Whoever eats this bread shall live forever.” He said these things when he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum. Therefore, many of his disciples, upon hearing this, said: “This saying is difficult,” and, “Who is able to listen to it?” But Jesus, knowing within himself that his disciples were murmuring about this, said to them: “Does this offend you? Then what if you were to see the Son of man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit who gives life. The flesh does not offer anything of benefit. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some among you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who were unbelieving and which one would betray him. And so he said, “For this reason, I said to you that no one is able to come to me, unless it has been given to him by my Father.” After this, many of his disciples went back, and they no longer walked with him. Therefore, Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” Then Simon Peter answered him: “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life. And we have believed, and we recognize that you are the Christ, the Son of God.”
Now while they were eating the meal, Jesus took bread, and he blessed and broke and gave it to his disciples, and he said: “Take and eat. This is my body.” And taking the chalice, he gave thanks. And he gave it to them, saying: “Drink from this, all of you. For this is my blood of the new covenant, which shall be shed for many as a remission of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink again from this fruit of the vine, until that day when I will drink it new with you in the kingdom of my Father.” And after a hymn was sung, they went out to the Mount of Olives. (Matthew 26:26-30)
The cup of benediction that we bless, is it not a communion in the Blood of Christ? And the bread that we break, is it not a participation in the Body of the Lord? Through the one bread, we, though many, are one body: all of us who are partakers of the one bread. Consider Israel, according to the flesh. Are not those who eat from the sacrifices partakers of the altar? What is next? Should I say that what is immolated to idols is anything? Or that the idol is anything? But the things that the Gentiles immolate, they immolate to demons, and not to God. And I do not want you to become partakers with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of demons. You cannot be partakers of the table of the Lord, and partakers of the table of demons. (1 Corinthians 10:16-24)
For I have received from the Lord what I have also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus, on the same night that he was handed over, took bread, and giving thanks, he broke it and said: “Take and eat. This is my body, which shall be given up for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” Similarly, also, the cup, after he had eaten supper, saying: “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord, until he returns. And so, whoever eats this bread, or drinks from the cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be liable of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and, in this way, let him eat from that bread, and drink from that cup. For whoever eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks a sentence against himself, not discerning it to be the body of the Lord. As a result, many are weak and sick among you, and many have fallen asleep. (1 Corinthians 11,23-30)
The saints have had these words of wisdom to share with us concerning this one sacrifice:
“ How many there are who still say, ‘I want to see His shape, His image, His clothing, His sandals.’ Behold, you do see Him, you touch Him, you eat Him! You want to see His clothing. He gives Himself to you, not just to be seen but to be touched, to be eaten, to be received within …. Let all of you be ardent, fervent, enthusiastic. If the Jews stood, shoes on, staff in hand, and eating in haste, how much more vigilant should you be. They were about to go to Palestine; … you are about to go to heaven. ”
– St. John Chrysostom 
“Let the entire man be seized with fear; let the whole world tremble; let heaven exult when Christ, the Son of the Living God, is on the altar in the hands of the priest. O admirable height and stupendous condescension! O humble sublimity! O sublime humility! that the Lord of the universe, God and the Son of God, so humbles Himself that for our salvation He hides Himself under a morsel of bread.”
– St. Francis of Assisi 
The last degree of love is when He gave Himself to us to be our Food; because He gave Himself to be united with us in every way.
Saint Bernardine of Siena 
“Put all the good works in the world against one Holy Mass; they will be as a grain of sand beside a mountain.”
– St. John Vianney 
“Know, O Christian, that the Mass is the holiest act of religion. You cannot do anything to glorify God more, nor profit your soul more, than by devoutly assisting at it, and assisting as often as possible.”
– St. Peter Julian Eymard 
Know also that you will probably gain more by praying fifteen minutes before the Blessed Sacrament than by all the other spiritual exercises of the day. True, Our Lord hears our prayers anywhere, for He has made the promise, ‘Ask, and you shall receive,’ but He has revealed to His servants that those who visit Him in the Blessed Sacrament will obtain a more abundant measure of grace.
– St. Alphonsus Liguori 
Every Holy Mass, heard with devotion, produces in our souls marvellous effects, abundant spiritual and material graces which we, ourselves, do not know…It is easier for the earth to exist without the sun than without the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass!
– St. Pio of Pietrelcina 
I desire to unite Myself to human souls, Know, My daughter, that when I come to a human heart in Holy Communion, My hands are full of all kinds of graces which I want to give to the soul. But souls do not even pay any attention to Me; they leave Me to Myself and busy themselves with other things… They treat Me as a dead object.
– St. Maria Faustina Kowalska 
Most Catholics watch Mass instead of worshipping at Mass.
Father Mike Schmitz 
The Eucharist is not a prize for the perfect, but medicine for sinners.
Pope Francis 
It’s been a few days since I’ve seen my kids. My heart is racing; I can’t wait to hold them. This is just a glimpse into God’s heart at Mass.
Mark Hart 
Sacrileges against the sacrament of the most blessed sacrament
Receiving our Lord God while in the state of unconfessed mortal sin or receiving him while flaunting the instruction of the church requesting a one hour fast before communion.
If one should find themselves unable to sacramentally receive our lord they can ask someone who is to receive to petition our lord for their fulfilment while they themselves make a spiritual communion.
7. The Westminster Collection of Christian Meditations, Westminster John Knox Press, 2000