Homily on the New Mass: Please Respond

Fr. Joel Homilies

The Mass 2.0: The Eucharistic Prayer (12:30)

Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my Roof

So far we have covered the Gloria and the Creed. As we look ahead, we see that most of the changes are a word here or there. The Mystery of Faith has changed in one important way – we are missing the most popular response: Christ has died, Christ is Risen, Christ will come again. What happened? It doesn’t exist in the Latin. The translators invented it when they wrote the English translation. So when the new translators came to that part, there was nothing to translate.

The other thing worth noting is the Invitation to Communion. This one looks very different: Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed. What does a roof have to do with receiving Communion? It is a quote from Luke Chapter 7 about a Centurion who believed so strongly, Jesus didn’t even need to enter his home to cure his servant. Jesus says, “Not even in Israel have I found such faith.” We quote this Centurion because we are asking for faith like that.

Many are Called

There is one other change that I want to mention. During the Consecration, the priest will soon say: Take this, all of you, and drink from it, for this is the chalice of my Blood, the Blood of the New and Eternal covenant, which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. It might sound disturbing that we are saying “Many” instead of “All.” It might sound disturbing, but that’s what it says in the Bible (see Matthew 26:28, Mark 14:24, Isaiah 53:12). Jesus’ sacrifice was for many (not just a few), but not all will accept it. That is perhaps the most disturbing thing about God’s love for us: we have the power to reject God’s love for us. Let’s not.

All together as a Family

Now that we have looked through the Mass translation, I want you to know that you don’t have to like it. Maybe you’re excited about some things. Maybe you’re uncomfortable. Maybe there will be some things you’ll miss. That’s perfectly fine. You have a right to your own opinion. You don’t have to like it, but you do have to do it. My dad used to tell us, “We’re doing this as a family, and you’re part of this family.” We Catholics are a big universal family. We are all doing this together as a family.

It’s not the end of the World

I think that this new translation will be a Y2K moment for the Church. Remember all the hype that every machine would stop working when the year rolled over to 2000? And nothing happened. There has been lots of hype and discussion about this translation but I think it’s not going to be a big deal. Maybe that’s really a bad thing. Many people aren’t interested in learning the new responses because we don’t know the old ones. I also know that many of you grew up when you were expected to just stay quiet in Mass and you did that very well. So I’m just going to make an appeal: please respond. This isn’t just my show.  You don’t come to Mass to watch me worship God. You come to Mass to worship God yourself. I have my parts and you have yours. We each have to do our part.

You have every right to expect me to do a good job. You expect me to come to Mass prepared, to have something worth listening to. You expect me to speak up and not mumble, and it bothers you when you can’t hear me. Most of you like it when I sing and you expect me to do that well. Those are all fully reasonable expectations for your priest. But if you expect this of me, I have every right to expect the same from you.

If you expect me to come to Mass prepared, then it’s only fair that you also come to Mass prepared. Read the readings in advance. Think about what you want to get out of Mass. Come early and recollect yourselves. If you expect me to speak up and not mumble, then I can expect the same out of you. Do you like me singing? Well, I like you singing, so let’s sing together. Jesus reminds us in today’s Gospel that we have the freedom to use the gifts we have been given. Two servants make good use of their gifts and the third wastes it. You get out of Mass what you put into Mass. If you are getting nothing out of Mass, I think we know where the problem starts. Please respond.

(13 Nov 2011)