This weekend we celebrated the Last Supper on Holy Thursday and the Easter Vigil on Saturday the two most beautiful liturgies of the year. Our celebration carries several names, all with significant meaning.
We call our liturgy Supper, Communion, Eucharist, and Mass.
Calling it a “Supper” reminds us that we eat and drink. It’s “Communion” because our eating and drinking together as a community deepens our fellowship with the Lord Jesus and each other. It’s “Eucharist” (from Greek eucharisto, “give thanks”) because we thank our Father for the gift of his Son, and we eat and drink in gratitude. “Mass,” the word Catholics use for liturgy, is the most mysterious and in some ways the most meaningful. Where does that word come from?
Mass is, apparently, a contraction of the dismissal at the end of the Latin Mass, it comes from the Latin words which are a proclamation - ite, missa est – “Go, you are sent.” The word “Mass” highlights the missional force of the Supper.
The Mass is not an event unto itself, a temporary respite from the world, it is a launching pad for action. In many ways, Mass is our most powerful name for our worship. The word tells us what our gathering is all about. We call our community supper a “Mass” to reminds us of the rhythm of the church’s life: We gather so that we can be dispersed; we eat and drink so that we may be satisfied and sent.
Now we say “Go in peace glorifying God by your life” to end our Mass. These are not just nice words to make us feel good. To literally “go in peace” is an incredible challenge. Because of our baptism as Christians, we are called to be different. We are called to be holy—as Peter said, a people “set apart.” To “go in peace” means much more than to leave with a good feeling. It means that we leave church with the intention of making peace happen in our personal lives and in what happens around us.
We are called to the Lord’s Supper, which prepares us to “go in peace glorifying God by our life.” When we say, “Thanks be to God,” we are thanking God profoundly and joyfully that the Mass is over and that we can leave church with renewed power to make God’s love and peace real in our individual circles of influence. Christ lives and works in and through us, the people of God.
What one thing will you do this week, as a person SENT by God?