Homily from the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King - Year A
Beginning next week, when the priest shows you the host and the chalice he’ll say, “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.”
The first part of the phrase is the words of St. John the Baptist from the Gospel of John. When John the Baptist first saw Jesus coming toward him he said, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”
The second part of the phrase is also words recorded by St. John the Evangelist, this time from the Book of Revelation. An angel said to John the Evangelist: “Write this, Blessed are those who are called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” Referring not only to the feast we celebrate in this Eucharist, but also to the heavenly banquet; the wedding feast of the Lamb when we will be gathered as one around Jesus, the Lamb of God.
Jesus is the Lamb of God because like the sacrificial Lamb of Passover which saved the ancient Jews from death, Jesus is the sacrificial Lamb of God who gives his life for us to save us from death and sin.
"Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof."
This is perhaps my favorite change in the new translation. Beginning next week, as you look upon the host and chalice, Jesus, the Lamb of God, you’ll say to him, “Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”
This is from the story of the centurion who had a sick servant and came to Jesus asking him to heal his servant. Jesus said, “I will come and cure him.” But the centurion immediately responds, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.” The centurion knew Jesus was a man of power and authority and he trusted that although he was not worthy to receive Jesus into his house, that Jesus’ love would nevertheless heal his servant.
Likewise, when we say these words, we acknowledge the power and authority of Christ and that we are not worthy to have Jesus enter “under our roof” and that we trust him to heal us through the gift of himself in the Eucharist.
Two will sound somewhat familiar: “Go forth, the Mass is ended” and “Go in peace.”
However, there are two new dismissals which will sound quite new. “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.” And “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.”
These two new dismissals have actually been chosen by Pope Benedict XVI himself. In choosing them, the Holy Father wanted us to see more clearly our responsibility as Christians to evangelize the world.
The dismissal isn’t just bringing the Mass to end. It’s a “sending forth.” That’s what dismissal means: to be sent on mission. In fact, that’s why the Eucharistic celebration is called the “Mass.” It comes from the final words of the Mass in Latin: “Ite Missa est.” Which literally means “It is sent.”
The Mass is a sending of you and I to be witnesses of Jesus Christ to the world by our words: “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord” and our actions: “Go in peace glorifying the Lord by your life.”