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God of Kept Promises

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“Hosanna!” It’s a word we say or sing at each Mass as the priest prepares to consecrate the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. For many of us, it is most likely a word that gets overlooked, quickly gotten through as just another part of the Eucharistic prayer. But it means something quite specific and quite special, offering a key to understanding the truth about our God.

Hosanna can be translated as “Please save us” or “Please, Lord, come”. In the Eucharistic prayer, then, as we say “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts, Heaven and Earth are full of Your Glory, Hosanna in the highest…,” we are first glorifying God and then begging Him to come and save us.

And what happens after we do? He quite literally hears our prayer and comes! The priest, acting in the authority of Christ, the Head of the Church, initiates the transubstantiation, and Our Lord is really and truly present among us. We beg for Him, and He answers our prayers, showing us in a very real and beautiful way that our God is a God of kept promises. Ask and receive. Beg for Him and He will come.

“Like a shepherd he feeds his flock;
in his arms he gathers the lambs,
Carrying them in his bosom,
leading the ewes with care.” (Isaiah 40:11)

Ever the Good Shepherd, God gathers us to Him. He cares for us; He feeds us, physically and spiritually.

During every age since the first day dawned after the Fall, our world has seemed a darkening place, where a separation exists between Creator and created, not His doing but ours. We perpetuate that separation every day with our venial and mortal sins, and despite our continuation in this life of sin, when we beg God for hear our prayers and come to us and the priest offers the sacrifice to the Father, Our Lord arrives, and does something so miraculous, unexpected and overwhelmingly loving: He elevates us from our mundane, sinful lives to ultimately share in something we can never earn and certainly do not deserve. As Fulton Sheen writes, “Everything in nature has to have communion in order to live; and through it what is lower is transformed into what is higher: chemical into plants, plants into animals, animals into man. And man? Should he not be elevated through communion with Him Who ‘came down’ from heaven to make man a partaker in the Divine nature?”.

This call-and-answer dialogue that occurs in each Mass shows unequivocally that our God is the God of kept promises, not solely in the past but in the present and we can trust, also in the future. It is in real time  that He keeps His promise - “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) - so that He is here, now. All we need to do is ask and we can receive.

With the dark circumstances that constantly surround us in this world, without this well-founded trust in God, without His daily Eucharistic miracles, despair would be a threat to each and every one of us, and perhaps might even be our ultimate and inevitable conclusion, certainly non-believers struggle deeply in trying times such as we’re in now - but as Christians, and specifically as Catholic Christians, we have the ultimate hope.

So the next time you’re at Mass and the Eucharistic prayer begins, remember that you are asking God to come and save you. And He is.

What We Put in our Minds & Body Matters

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 What we put in our minds matters and what we put into our bodies matters. What we put into each, changes us. When you surround your mind with what we perceive as good and true and beautiful, it influences our desire to pursue that in life. St. Paul wrote about this in Philippians 4:8 "Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things".

So think about Jesus. Don't just think about Jesus, be Jesus. When we receive Eucharist, Jesus then resides in us. Total perfection becomes one with you. You are made perfect! This is the most profound union we can have with our God here on earth. Dr. Edward Sri makes the point as it relates to the mind, "When we come back to our pews after receiving Holy Communion, it is not the time to look around and see who's at Mass, or daydream about the football game in the afternoon, or develop our 'parking lot exit strategy'. And, it's certainly not appropriate to leave before Mass is over. This is the most intimate time we have with our God - to talk to him from the depths of our hearts. As he is lovingly dwelling within us, we should use these profound moments to tell him we love him, to thank him for blessings in our lives, to pour out our hearts to him with whatever may be troubling us, and to quietly rest in his love and listen to him."

Fill your mind with what matters so that the body follows.

We Are All Children of God

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Hindsight is always 20/20. As we look back on history, knowing that Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, along with 2,000 years of theological study, the Sadducees can seem a little silly. Yet during Jesus time there was a belief about who the Messiah would be and what he would accomplish. This Jesus didn’t look much like the warrior king that would return Israel to its previous glory. From the Sadducees perspective they needed to discredit this impostor as soon as possible. They devised a plan. They came up with a seemingly impossible and absurd scenario. A woman had married, and before she could have a child, her husband died, so she married her brother-in-law as prescribed by the law. This happened to her not once but seven times. If there were a resurrection how absurd would it be to simultaneously be married to seven men?

How does Jesus respond? He says we are all children of God. There is no need for marriage as a type of estate planning. While that was important in this life it has no meaning in heaven. Instead, we are more like angels and will have eternal life with and in God. In fact to God we have never died. Jesus knows of his upcoming death and resurrection and he also knows that we too, by virtue of our baptism, will rise with him to eternal life. This is the good news! This is the kingdom Jesus has come to create, where everyone has come from God and everyone must return to God. A kingdom of love and mercy vs a kingdom of earthly power and exclusion. A kingdom that somehow exists in our world today but in an imperfect way. It is the kingdom that is tangibly present to us in all the sacraments, particularly in the Eucharist. This, is the resurrection we live for, a life with the Holy Trinity, the communion of Saints and the heavenly host for eternity.

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