Why is Sunday Mass important, anyway? The pope explains

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What would you do if you were at Calvary near Jesus crucified?

In his reflection on the Eucharist during today’s general audience in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis insisted again that Mass is a sacred celebration, not a show, and he invited the faithful to re-live the Paschal mystery of Jesus.

He invited his listeners to reflect on going to Mass and on their relationship to Christ: “If during Mass, we are going to Calvary—let’s use our imagination—and we know that that man [on the cross] is Jesus, would we allow ourselves to chat, to take photos, and to make a bit of a show?”

“No! Because that’s Jesus! We would surely be in silence, in tears, and also full of joy because we are saved.”

The pope preached about the sacrament in which the Church commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus’ life with His disciples, when He handed Himself over as a voluntary sacrifice of love for the salvation of the world.

Things that separate us from the mystery 

“When we enter a church to celebrate the Mass, let us think like this: ‘I am arriving at Calvary, where Jesus gives His life for me.’ And in this way, the show disappears, the chattering disappears, [along with] the comments and all those things that distance us from this beautiful thing which is the Mass, Jesus’ victory.”

The pope thus continued the cycle of catecheses about the Holy Mass, explaining how the Mass is the memorial of the Paschal Mystery of Christ.

He explained that what we commemorate in the Mass is how Jesus “with His passion, death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven, brought the Passover to completion.”

In fact, “the Eucharist makes present the sacrifice that Christ offered once and for all on the Cross, which remains perennially present, carrying out the work of our redemption.”

Thus, we really are going to Calvary with Christ, even if we must use our imaginations to bring the experience to our senses.

During the Mass, the priest breaks the bread. This gesture, the pope explained, commemorates God’s love for us, because Jesus “gives Himself to us and shares with us all His mercy and His love, renewing our heart, our life, and our relationships with Him and with our brothers.”

The Eucharist is a sacrament of the Catholic Church. As such, the pope said, “through the Eucharistic celebration, the Holy Spirit makes us participants in the divine life, which is capable of transforming our entire mortal being.”

“Through the Eucharist, Jesus frees us from physical death and from the fear of death, as well as from spiritual death, which is evil and sin,” he said.

Participating in Sunday Mass

Consequently, he summarized, “for Christians, it is vital to participate in the Eucharist, especially on Sundays, since it allows us to unite ourselves with Christ, taking part in His victory over death, and to enjoy the fruits of the resurrection.”

The pope taught that the Eucharist also strengthens our interpersonal and social relationships: “The Lord Jesus wants to give us in the Eucharist His Paschal love so we can love God and our neighbor as He loved us, giving up His own life.”

At the end of the audience, the pope greeted pilgrims from around the world. The audience concluded with the singing of the Our Father, followed by the Apostolic Blessing.

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