Readings: Dt 18:15-20; Ps 95; 1 Cor 7:32-35; Mk 1:21-28
Below is the corresponding article from the bulletin, which is like a summary of the homily, but without the cool stories...
Encountering Jesus Christ at Mass (Mk 1:21-28)
Jesus was asked, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us?” The demons wanted to know why Jesus came. We however, can apply a similar question to ourselves. Why do we come to Mass on Sunday?
For some of us, the reason might be a sense of obligation, routine, or habit. For others, it might be because their friends or family come. Still others might be simply visiting. We certainly welcome whoever wants to come and join us in prayer, but if your reason for coming is one of the above, then please know that there is an even better reason to come. Pope Francis in one of his general audiences tells us, “We Christians go to Mass on Sunday to encounter the Risen Lord, or, better, to let ourselves be encountered by Him.” We come to encounter Christ and to let that encounter overflow into our lives during the week.
There are four ways that Jesus Christ is present at Mass and through them we can encounter Him. First, Jesus is present in the gathered community since Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Mt 18:20). Secondly, Jesus is present in His priest. Through the Sacrament of Holy Orders, the priest is ordained to lead the community in prayer and to act in the person of Jesus Christ to transmit His grace. The priest is so closely united to Jesus Christ, that when he says the words of consecration, it is really Jesus Christ Himself speaking. Thirdly, Jesus Christ is present to us at Mass through Sacred Scripture. The “Word of God” is a phrase that is applied both to Sacred Scripture and Jesus Christ since both are so intimately related. Jesus is present in the Scriptures and is still speaking to us today through them. The fourth way is in the Eucharist. Jesus Christ is really and truly present, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. His presence is hidden behind the appearances of bread and wine, but after Jesus through His priest consecrates the bread and wine, it is Jesus Christ Himself who is present.
We can encounter Jesus in these ways every Sunday at Mass. But, if we are not paying attention, then we would likely miss Him. I encourage everyone to try to encounter Jesus Christ at Mass.