ROME – Continuing his catechesis on liturgy, Pope Francis said Nov. 22 that Mass is a memorial of Christ’s Passover from death to life, which inspires faithful to bear witness and like the martyrs, freely give themselves to others.
“Every celebration of the Eucharist is a ray of light of the unsetting sun that is the Risen Jesus Christ,” the pope told the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s square for his weekly general audience. “To participate in Mass, especially on Sunday, means entering in the victory of the Risen, being illuminated by his light, warmed by his warmth.”
Francis explained that he used the term ‘memorial’ in a biblical sense, meaning that Mass is more than a remembrance because it makes the paschal mystery present.
“It’s not just a memory, no, it’s more: It’s making present what happened twenty centuries ago,” the pope said going off script. With his passion, death and resurrection, Jesus completed his passover, which faithful commemorate during Mass.
“The Lord Jesus, by making himself into bread broken for us, pours over us all his mercy and his love, as he did on the cross, so as to renew our hearts, our existence and our way of relating with Him and our brothers,” Francis said.
Through the Eucharist, the Holy Spirit transfigures the mortal essence of the faithful and makes them participants in the divine and the Lord includes them in the passover. “During Mass we unite with Him,” the pope explained.
He added that Christ lives in His flock and vice versa, citing the words of Saint Paul to the Galatians: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.
“His blood,” the pope continued, “frees us from death and the fear of death. It liberates us not only from the domain of physical death, but also by the spiritual death that is evil, sin, which takes us every time we fall victims to our sin or somebody else’s.”
When committing a sin, life is “polluted,” Francis said, and it loses beauty and meaning. This is opposed to Christ who represents the fullness of life, having fought and conquered death forever.
“Christ’s Passover is the definitive victory over death, because he transformed his death in a supreme act of love,” he added. “In the Eucharist, He wishes to communicate to us this paschal and victorious love.”
It is this very love that Christ infuses the faithful with during the Eucharistic celebration, which allows them to love others and even to give themselves entirely to their neighbors.
“Martyrs gave their life because of this certainty in Christ’s victory over death,” Francis said. “Only if we experience this power of Christ, the power of his love, can we be truly free to give ourselves without fear.”
The pope reiterated the memorial quality of the Mass, which allows believers to enter into the paschal mystery of Christ and with him pass from death to life.
“This is Mass: entering in this passion, death, resurrection, ascension of Jesus and when we go to Mass, it is as if we go to the calvary,” Francis concluded in an off-the-cuff remark. “Now imagine if we went to the calvary – using our imagination – in that moment, knowing that that man there is Jesus. Would we dare to chit-chat, take pictures, make a little scene? No! Because it’s Jesus! We would surely be in silence, in tears, and in the joy of being saved.
“Mass is experiencing the calvary, it’s not a show,” he added.
As usual, Pope Francis concluded his audience by sending out his blessing to the faithful, and invited young people, the infirm and newlyweds to learn from the example of Saint Cecilia whose feast is Nov. 22.