We now come to the central part of the Mass.
This is when we offer praise and thanks to God our Father and Creator , through, in union with and in, Jesus Christ. We start with the preface, which like any preface is an introduction to what is to come.
‘The Lord be with you …..
Lift up your hearts …….
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God ……..’
After the preface we start the Canon of the Mass.
This is when we enter the realm of mystery. Thousands of books have been written, down the ages, about how this works but the element of mystery still remains.
It is all to do with Holy Thursday evening (the Last Supper) through to Easter Sunday morning (the Resurrection).
These three days encapsulated the reason for, the meaning of, and the results of the Incarnation.
For the two or three years of his public ministry, how Jesus of Nazareth lived, what he said and did throughout Galilee, guaranteed him the enmity of the political and religious leadership of the land. If today, I and you were to live, act and speak as He did, we too would incur the enmity of the political and religious leadership of this land.
He knew this. His Apostles and followers knew this. His mother and relations knew this.
His mother tried to talk sense to him. His relatives tried to talk sense to him. His apostles tried to talk sense to him and prevent him from going to Jerusalem. He could have quietly slipped away into any one of the neighbouring countries and lain low for a couple of years or so until the authorities forgot about him.
But that would mean surrendering to the forces of injustice, to the forces of oppression. Then the forces of evil would have vanquished him. The forces of evil would have won over the forces of good. Hatred would have defeated love, intolerance would have overcome tolerance, vengeance would have suppressed forgiveness.
So He remained true to the will of His Father irrespective of the consequences for Himself.
He lived as God lives, right up to the end.
And just as the forces of evil, injustice and oppression were congratulating themselves for their success in conquering Him and what He stood for, He arose triumphant from the tomb to lead his Apostles and followers and us today into His Kingdom of light, love and mutual forgiveness and to share in the eternal life of the Father.
This is what the canon of the Mass is about. It makes present for us today the events of Holy Thursday evening to Easter Sunday morning. We are able to relive these events in symbol. We are able to participate in and witness these events in signs.
This is a mystery.
We do it because He, Jesus of Nazareth, told us to do what He did at the Last Supper in memory of Him. In memory of his whole life among us. And especially in memory of his last three days.
At the Last Supper he did, in a symbolic way, what was about to happen to him in reality, starting that evening in the Garden of Gethsemane.