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 | By Joey Reistroffer

Love wants to be near the one it loves

Focus on the Mass. Zoom in on Jesus. Believe in him, and he will bless you.

That is the message that Dr. Edward Sri, a keynote speaker at the Diocesan Eucharistic Congress, told the 1,000 or so folks who attended his talk at the Metropolitan Convention Center in Columbia on Divine Mercy Saturday.

“Everything we do in the Mass — I mean everything — is rooted in the Bible,” Sri told the faithful.

“When we come together for the sacred liturgy … we believe that the Bible is inspired by God. It is the perfect Word … the Bible is God’s love letter to us,” he explained.

And the Eucharist is Christ’s gift to us that he first offered at the Last Supper; he continues giving himself to us even today. And Jesus truly is present in the Eucharist. Sri wants every Catholic to know this, and that is why he is amazed that many Catholics are lackadaisical at Mass.

“Catholics can go to Mass and just go through the motions. We go through it almost robotically,” he said.

Sri said people tell him, “I wish I could get more out of Mass.”

You can, he said. “We get more when we give more.”

Part of that giving is to take the necessary time to understand the Eucharist.

“There are three essential things about the Eucharist; three basic aspects,” Sri said. “Over 90 percent of Catholics are not aware of these three key things.”

  • The Eucharist truly is the Real Presence of our Lord.
  • The Eucharist is a sacrifice.
  • The Eucharist is communion.

“God wants to get into our soul and change us. Then we become like him,” and Sri said that starts with the Eucharist.

“The bread and wine is changed into the body and blood of Christ. It is the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus. The change is not a chemical change,” he relayed.

The bread still looks like bread and tastes like bread.

“But underneath that outward appearance of bread is Jesus,” Sri said.

Jesus loves us, and he gives us the Eucharist so that we can love him back. He gives us the Eucharist so that we can turn to him in times of need. And he is there in the adoration chapel when we need a friend who understands our deepest fears.

“In times of trouble, where do you turn?” the nationally renowned speaker asked. “Do you take time to go to the one who can make a difference? That same Jesus is in the blessed sacrament in the Eucharist. … he is with us in every tabernacle.”

And Jesus wants to be near us even now.

“Love wants to be near the one it loves,” Sri explained.

So Jesus sacrificed himself to save us, and we witness that sacrifice at every Mass. But many in the pews don’t get it.

“I never heard a single Catholic say, ‘I miss the sacrifice of the Mass,’” Sri said.

Then he explained that sacrifice, taking the crowd back to Exodus and the Passover in the Old Testament.

He talked about how the Israelites reenacted Passover every year as a memorial, as a way to make the past come alive and be real in the present.

Sri described how the Israelites took a sacrificial lamb, roasted and ate it, then spread its blood on their doorposts so the angel of death would pass over their houses.

“It’s as if we are walking out of Egypt,” Sri said of the Passover memorial.

But during the Last Supper, Jesus redefined Passover.

“This is my body; this is my blood. Jesus is saying ‘my body is being offered up like the lamb.’ He’s being sacrificed like that Passover lamb,” he said.

“‘Do this in memory of me.’ He’s saying, ‘Make this present like the new Passover.’ When you go to Mass, it’s as if you are going to Calvary,” he added.

Sri called Christ on the cross “sacrificial love,” and Jesus offers that love to us. “He’s calling us to love like he does.”

He’s calling us through communion to be with him.

“Let’s take some time to rest with the Lord. Spend some time with him,” Sri urged.

Jesus understands our troubles, our shortcomings, our faults. He revels in our joys, our accomplishments, our dreams. And he can fill the holes in our lives.

“Do you mind the gaps you have in your life?” Sri asked. “Do you take time to know and learn your faith? Learn to rely on God’s grace.”