Modes of Encounter with Christ in his people.

For the next few weeks I will be sharing my reflections on
the various ways in which we meet Christ in the
celebration of Mass. Pope Benedict XVI has given us a
truly memorable phrase: “There is nothing more beautiful
than the encounter with Christ”. Specifically in the
celebration of Mass we meet him in his people, in his Word
proclaimed, in Holy Communion shared, and in the
Minister presiding.
In what follows we will reflect on how we encounter Christ
in the congregation as we gather in faith for the
celebration. Jesus has said “Where two or three are
gathered in my name I am with you”. That is why during
Mass the priest or deacon greets the congregation four
times with the following words “The Lord be with you”, at
the beginning just after the Sign of the Cross, when we
stand for the Gospel, at the introductory dialogue to the
Eucharistic prayer and at the end before the blessing.
These are alert calls to be spiritually aware of the abiding
and living presence of Jesus our Risen Lord with us. St.
Paul reminds us that “Christ lives in our heart through
faith”, “In him we live and move and have our very
existence, he is the peace between us”.
When I ponder these words and believe them in my heart,
I become aware of how truly privileged and blessed I am
through the presence of every person in the Church.
Every parent and child, every person struggling with faith
or problems in life, communicates to me by their very
presence the overflowing love of Jesus for each of us.
Parents who are now taking their child to Mass every
Sunday as they prepare for First Holy Communion are
nurturing them into a deep awareness of the love and
friendship of Jesus for each of us. This week I leave you
to ponder this alternative greeting at the beginning of Mass
“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and
the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all”. We are
immersed in a four-fold relationship of love with Jesus, the
Father, the Holy Spirit and the people gathered with us.
Blessed be God forever!
Fr. Tom