“The most profound thing we can do each day is participate in the Mass.” This providential line from a humble priest’s homily has made all the difference in my life. Without the ripple effect that this insight has had on me for thirty years, it would be impossible to picture my life as it is today: particularly the tremendous blessings of my marriage and family.
In the moments when those sound waves hit my ears, I didn’t see any of this. I was too focused on what seemed like an ocean of emptiness offered by worldly pursuits, and overwhelming indifference among those who were just going along to get along. Both my head and my heart were looking for something profound—something deep, bottomless, vast.
“The word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.”
What I gradually discovered as I began to organize my daily schedule around Mass is that I found Someone waiting for me each day. Or, rather, Someone found me! Though it would take me a while to be able to articulate it, I knew that Jesus was calling me, welcoming me, and inviting me down new paths as I received Him in Holy Communion each day.
In and through these daily Masses, I also discovered that “the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.” (Heb 4:12). In each day’s readings for Mass, I began to hear the Lord addressing my hopes and concerns. I slowly realized that the Scriptures could challenge and console me here and now. At some point, I also discovered the gift of Confession, not just as an obligation, but as another unique opportunity to hear the Lord speak into my life—but that’s a story for another day.
The simplicity and intimacy of these daily Masses also helped me grow in appreciation of the Sunday celebrations with the full parish community. Following Jesus as a beloved disciple became more clearly connected to the fact that I belonged to something bigger. Responding to the baptismal call to holiness and mission involved saying both a personal and a communal “yes” to the gift of new life in Christ, and at Sunday Masses I began to catch glimpses of Christ the Head in communion with all of the members in His humble body, the Church.
All of this opened my eyes to the fact that Christ’s self-emptying gift on the Cross reveals the depths of God’s love for me and for the whole world, even as it is all so undeserved. The daily re-presentation of that ultimate Sacrifice challenges me to give more freely and more fully. As a husband and father, I have to ask myself whether I really have my life properly ordered—with God first, my wife and children second, and myself third—and to what extent my relationship with my family is marked by self-giving rather than self-seeking. In Jesus’ words, “Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap” (Lk 6:38a).
“For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you”
My prayer for my family and friends, as well as for searching and suffering souls everywhere, is that we continue to say a deeper yes to Christ’s gift in the Holy Mass. This is the most concrete way that we can respond to Pope Francis’s invitation to all Christians, “to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them” (EG, n. 3). As we respond to this invitation, our desire to share the fruits of so great a gift will continue to expand—particularly with those on the socio-economic and existential peripheries. After all, love is meant to be first received, then freely given and poured out without measure: “For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you” (Lk 6:38b).
Jesus is Love-with-us, inviting each of us to enter more deeply into the mystery of Divine Life, here and now. Each celebration of the Mass is a simple and yet profound opportunity for us to say, in the words of Balthasar, “Love alone is credible”!