The Concluding Rites: “This Saying is Hard”
We conclude our biblical walk through the mass this week by taking a quick walk back through all the major components of the Sacred Mysteries. The central piece of the structure of Mass is the Eucharistic prayers. In the words of consecration said in the power of the Holy Spirit, the priest standing in the person of Christ, makes truly present the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Just like that! The faith of believers, the tradition of the Church, the authority and command of Jesus, all these come into play. If we lack faith, we would walk away like disciples of Jesus in John 6. Take and eat. Take and drink. This is my body. This is my blood. The words of Jesus are difficult to believe except we have faith. “This saying is hard’ who can accept it?”
Catholics have accepted it. We have lived and died for it for over two thousand years. For those with flagging faith, we pray their faith grows. We need that faith as we leave mass to bear witness to Jesus Christ we received sacramentally at Mass. The mass concludes with the words of the priest: Ite missa est- translated “Go forth, the Mass is ended.” Now we have been sent on a mission by Jesus, represented by the priest. He says literally, “go, you are dismissed, ” just as Jesus told his apostles somewhere else: “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you” (Jn 20:21). We wait for the concluding rites of Mass to hear those words of empowerment, of sending forth to bring the mysteries of Christ’s redemption into the world.
Let’s be people of thanksgiving, Eucharistic people. Believe the words of Jesus.
Fr. Bernard Oniwe, OP