Today’s Gospel: Matthew 5:20-26
“Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar,
and there recall that your brother
has anything against you,
leave your gift there at the altar,
go first and be reconciled with your brother,
and then come and offer your gift.”
This got me to thinking about the beauty and wisdom of the Order of the Mass. Have you ever sat and pondered why we do the things we do in the order we do them within the context of the Mass?
Our offerings are brought to the altar, and the priest leads us in the Eucharistic Prayer. Before we go on to receive the Precious Body and Blood of Christ, we pray the Lord’s Prayer (“Our Father”) and exchange the Sign of Peace.
Why does Mother Church want us to pray the Lord’s Prayer and exchange the Sign of Peace before receiving Communion? It is clear that we must “be reconciled with your brother and then come and offer your gift.” Although the Lord’s Prayer and Sign of Peace occur after the gifts are presented at the altar, the message is clear: we must be at peace with one another before we receive Communion. Sin affects the entire Body of Christ. This is why it is such a big deal for us to go to confession before Mass if we intend to receive the Precious Body and Blood. Receiving the Precious Body and Blood signifies that we are in communion with Christ’s Body.
One chapter after Jesus speaks these words about reconciling with our brothers, He teaches his disciples the Lord’s Prayer. “And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” If we are withholding forgiveness or need to apologize for our own wrongdoing, this is our warning to take action. If we mean what we are praying, we are asking God to forgive us as we forgive those who hurt us. For most of us, that’s a scary thought!
Immediately following the Lord’s Prayer is the Sign of Peace. Hopefully we’ve already “settled our accounts” by asking for forgiveness or extending forgiveness before we arrive at Mass. The Sign of Peace is our opportunity to reaffirm and physically express that we are at peace with the other members of the Body of Christ. Christ’s forgiveness releases us from our sin that affects the entire Body of Christ. The Sign of Peace allows us to physically show one another that we share in the peace Christ gives us when we are free from the bondage of sin.
Do I make it a point to make-up quickly and regularly, especially before Mass?
Do I mean it when I ask God to “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”?
What can I do today to receive and share the peace of Christ?
Jesus, thank you for giving us the gift of the Lord’s Prayer. Forgive us for the times we have resisted forgiving or have not asked for forgiveness. Help us to be reconciled with one another. Help us to seek You and the peace that only You can give above our own pride, hurt, or fear. Thank you for the gift of our lives. May we bring to the altar the gifts of our lives–our daily sacrifices in thoughts, words, and actions that glorify You and build up the Body of Christ.
Copyright 2014 Catherine Boucher