Ask yourself this question:
"If I could be guaranteed the winning lottery numbers for $100 million dollars not only on Sunday, but every single day of my life, the only caveat being I had to get up at 3 AM and drive 100 miles to collect my prize, would I go?"
We all know the answer, and it is "I sure would." We could never get enough of our lottery winnings. We would get to bed early so we could get up early, we would have our car tanked up full of gas, and we would keep it in perfect mechanical condition so we could collect our prize every single day. We would brave any kind of weather, and we would have a spare car to collect our prize in case our first car didn't start. If all that failed we would call a friend or a taxi to collect our prize.
Do we love Our Lord with the same passion and enthusiasm winning lottery numbers? Would we get up at 3 AM every day and drive 100 miles to be at Holy Mass? Would we brave any weather, and do whatever we must to get there? Sadly, we don't and we wouldn't. We give our hearts to material things before we give our hearts to God and what it means to be with Him for all eternity.
We go about saluting people who are famous in Sports and Hollywood types who are most often Godless people. We hail them as the new role models of society with wild enthusiasm trying to get close to them for self interested, egotistical reasons. We act as though our own self worth is measured by the ones we hail, as though if we could only be touched by their shadow their worldly fortunes would somehow come to us and make us whole and entire. Do you think children do not see and emulate this? Look at how they are acting, and dressing, and wanting to be the next STAR. Christ spoke about the consequences for leading the little ones astray, and this applies to parents before it applies to anyone else. As the parents live so will their children, the acorn does not fall far from the tree.
Meanwhile, with complete and abject indifference to all that matters the Saints are cast off as role models, relegated to the dustbin of inconsequential history because they are not "exciting enough", they are not worldly minded enough for modern tastes. At the same time many have stopped going to Mass altogether, or they receive Holy Communion unworthily because they have not confessed mortal sin thereby bringing judgment on their own souls.
We marvel at, and greet new cures for illness with enthusiasm and unbounded optimism, but we barely have time for the physician of both soul and body. We scant consider whether the important thing in this life is not how long men will live, but how many will be raised to Eternal Life and arrive in Heaven.
Being of strong faith in a world so much in need of God has even come to be seen as weakness of heart and mind. Human respect causes men to care more about what other men say of them rather than what Christ says of them, and what he will say TO them at judgment. Words of men are dust in the wind, and all the while, Jesus Christ, the great lover of mankind longs for our love where he comes to meet us that he may become one with us in the Holy Eucharist.
If our indifference to such a great treasure to be found in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass does not give us some sense of ingratitude, if we do not have a sense of something lacking within us that we would have such a passion for the lottery but indifference to Holy Mass, we need to consider where we are in the spiritual life. This life is the threshold to where we will spend eternity.
A great example of those who cherished the Holy Mass is found in the Catacombs. The faithful went to their death in the early Church professing belief in the Holy Mass. How many do you think would be willing to suffer this end, this beginning, in our day? If we ever expect to appreciate Holy Mass, in spite of ourselves, we have to take action. We have to return to an appreciation of the sense of the sacred and ask for the grace to rid ourselves of the indifference towards the Holy Eucharist that makes heaven blush. When you get right down to it, how can you teach your children about the inestimable treasure in Holy Mass if you do not treasure it yourself? Think about what this means: in the Holy Eucharist is Jesus Christ, the very Word of God incarnate, the God/man, body, blood, soul, and divinity, the Holy One who wills you into existence and keeps you in existence. He gives his life for you that you may have life to the full here and be with him forever in the next, and we barely have time for him, if any time at all.
Remember, Christ said "He that eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, has everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day. [John 6:55]
If we knew our final day on earth was today would we want to have confessed and received Holy Communion? For all intents and purposes, the end of the world for us as individuals is our final day on earth, and we know not the day or the hour, so it would behoove us not to be indifferent to so great and necessary a treasure as is the Holy Eucharist.
We have to look at two contributing factors that have brought about such indifference to the Holy Eucharist and then what the Holy Mass actually means for us in our day to day life, to our struggles in life, and to the core of our being which cries out with the need to love and be loved. We also need to understand why a 'Crucifix' should represent the reality of Calvary in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
First, let me be clear about the Holy Mass for non-Catholics, and for many Catholics as well.
The Church does not teach that Christ is put to death over and over at each Catholic Mass. He dies one time and one time only, but it is a great error, in fact, it is heretical to think of Calvary as an event that came and went in time 2,000 years ago. It is a one time sacrifice as an event, but it is an event that is present to all of time and place, and to deny that is to deny the very divinity of Jesus Christ, and we will see why.
The Church also teaches that at Mass the crucifixion of Christ on the altar comes to us in an unbloody manner. This means the manner in which Christ comes to us is not a re-crucifixion, but that it is Christ in the Priest who says the words of Consecration with and through the Priest which makes Calvary, an event which is present to all of time, substantially accessible to us in the Holy Mass without killing Christ again and again. There is no re-crucifixion; it is the same crucifixion which took place on Calvary.
Second, although Catholic crucifixes represent Calvary with the body of Christ on the Cross, most people are not brought to think about the reality of Calvary as being present in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass when they look at a Crucifix, until now, and that is what the Holy Mass Crucifixes are intended to remedy.
To begin with, a true representation of Calvary in the Mass must include the elements necessary for the consecration in the Mass which is why there is wheat and grapes on the Holy Mass Crucifix. As the wheat must die to self to become bread, and as the grapes must be crushed to yield wine, this is representative of the passion of Christ where he is crushed for our sin and dies on the Cross that we may have life with him in the resurrection. The wheat and grapes are also representative of the need for us to die to self to become fully alive in Christ.
A representation of the Eucharist at the heart of the Holy Mass Crucifix reminds us that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and Calvary are inseparable, that they are one and the same reality, and on the cross is the self-same victim for our sin, Jesus Christ.
The Holy Mass is where Jesus meets us substantially; body, blood, soul, and divinity which he promised to do when he said "I will be with you till the end of time". He comes to us in the Mass to unite himself to us that we may share in his divinity, and in light of this we must look at what this means for us in our day to day life, and we are about to see why.
The Council of Chalcedon teaches:
"... One and the same our Lord Jesus Christ ... homousious (same substance, same essence) with the Father in godhead, and the same homousious (same substance, same essence in our human nature ) with us in manhood, like us in all things except sin; begotten before ages of the Father in godhead; the same in the last days of us and for our salvation [born] of Mary the Virgin ... acknowledged in two natures without confusion, without change, without division, without separation - the difference of the natures being by no means taken away because of the union, but rather the distinctive character of each nature being preserved, and [each combining in one person and hypostasis - not divided or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and only-begotten God, Logos, Lord Jesus Christ ... .
In God there are 3 Divine Persons in the essence of the one God. Jesus is the 2nd person of the Most Holy Trinity and He alone became man, so let us look at the Incarnation of God as man.
Suppose for a moment I was to draw a large circle on a chalk board and I said the circle represents the size of God. I then put a small dot at the center of the circle and said the dot represents the human nature of Jesus joined to the 2nd Person of the Blessed Trinity who is a Divine Person. Would this be an accurate representation of the Incarnation? No, it would not, so let us see why it fails.
First of all, you cannot draw a circle big enough to represent God because in fact He is infinite in being and transcends, or goes beyond any size, dimension, or spatial extension (something that takes up space in a place). Nor can you divide God in his essence because God is immutable (cannot be changed or divided) in his divine essence. You simply cannot put something "on" God like you can put a book on a table, or a dot on a chalk board. He is infinitely beyond spot, or place, or size, or form, because he is the transcendent one before which all of time, and all that belongs to it, past, present, and future, is present to him as one in the eternal now.
So then, given the fact there is no "place" or "spot" on the 2nd Person of the Most Holy Trinity, we now have to look at what it means when we speak of the Incarnation; when God becomes fully man while remaining fully God.
It means that God, by his transcendent power, takes the human nature he created from Mary for himself and makes it "consubstantial" (one substance) with his very infinite, omnipresent, transcendent, divine person, as Jesus Christ in the Incarnation. The human nature of Jesus (body and soul) is made ONE with his DIVINE PERSON, and since there is no place or spot on his Divine Person the human nature of Jesus is fully one in substance with his omnipresent Divine Person, and a Divine Person is infinitely transcendent and omnipresent to all of time and place. Does this mean the human nature is of Jesus is not subject to the limits and constraints of human nature? No, but we will see its relationship to omnipresence in his divine person.
We can look closer at the Incarnation in light of our own human nature and then we will look at the human nature of Jesus incarnate.
As a human person you and I are composite being, meaning we each have a physical body, and a soul which is spirit. The body will always be the body and the soul will always be the soul, and never the two shall mix, or become confused as to their distinct substance, or mingle in any way.
This question is now put to you:
"How many persons are there in you?"
The self evident answer is there is only ONE person in you, not two. There is not a YOU PERSON for your body and a different YOU PERSON for your soul. There is only ONE PERSON in YOU and that is YOU. Yet, your body and your soul come together in a substantial union in the ONE PERSON of you without mingling in their nature. That is what we are as a human person. Are we now to say the fact of what we are, the fact that God brings together 2 natures in one person is beyond his doing for himself, that he cannot join 2 natures in one divine person for himself? It is infinitely easier for him to do this for himself than for us to flick on a light switch, in fact in his omnipotence, which is the unlimited power to do anything he wants, there is no effort at all to join human nature to his divine person.
Now we look at the Person of Jesus compared to us as persons.
" Jesus has a human body and a human soul just the same as you and I.
" He is ONE PERSON who is a DIVINE PERSON. We are ONE PERSON who is a HUMAN PERSON.
" He is ONE DIVINE PERSON with 2 natures; we are ONE HUMAN PERSON with 2 natures.
" As a DIVINE PERSON he has a DIVINE and HUMAN nature. As a HUMAN PERSON we have a BODY and SOUL.
We must also be mindful of this fact: in the case of Jesus, his human soul, though it is spiritual in nature like ours, is NOT the divine nature of Jesus which is also spiritual. His DIVINE NATURE which is Spirit is distinct from his HUMAN SOUL which is also spirit.
To be clear, even though Jesus has a human nature just like ours in all things but sin, Jesus is NOT a human person. There is only one person in Jesus and that person is divine, not human.
He is God, and as God he took human nature and made it consubstantial (one substance) with his divine PERSON, but NOT with his divine Nature. Just as our body and soul will never mingle in their nature the human nature Jesus will never mix, or mingle, or fuse, or become divine in nature. His human nature and divine nature will always and forever be distinct in nature. His two natures come together and subsist in the ONE divine person of Jesus of Nazareth. This is why as a divine person Jesus cannot suffer in his divine nature, but as man, in his human nature, he can. So, in truth, we are not only made in the image and likeness of God, we are made in the image and likeness of the Incarnation itself.
Consider this, if you suffer a cut on your finger it is your body that is cut because it is mutable, but your soul is not cut because your soul is of a spiritual substance which is immutable; your soul cannot be cut into pieces and it cannot bleed.
In the case of Jesus, as man, in his human nature, his body can be cut, and bleed, and suffer, and die like ours, but as God, in his divine nature, he cannot be cut, suffer, or die. This is why on Calvary God did not die as God because God cannot die as God, and he did not die as a human person because he is not a human person. He who is fully God and fully man died as man.
St. Thomas Aquinas says this of the Incarnation:
"Jesus of Nazareth, the man, was the Second Person of the Triune God.
The Second Person of the Trinity is eternally existent.
Jesus of Nazareth, the man, is not eternal.
The Second Person of the Trinity existed independently (antecedent to) Jesus of Nazareth.
Jesus of Nazareth does not exist apart from the Second Person of the Trinity.
Jesus of Nazareth is the Second Person of the Trinity by virtue of the Second Person of the Trinity.
The Second Person of the Trinity is Jesus of Nazareth by virtue of the Second Person of the Trinity.
Jesus of Nazareth existed only through (on account of) the incarnational union.
The Second Person of the Trinity merely existed in the incarnational union.
Jesus of Nazareth, the man, and the Second Person of the Trinity are numerically identical."
The one divine person, the 2nd person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, died as man in his HUMAN NATURE without dying or changing in any way as a DIVINE PERSON in his DIVINE NATURE. This is the reason his sacrifice on Calvary is inestimable, this is why Holy Mass is inestimable. As a victim who is both God and man, his sufferings as man atone for the sin of man, and this reality is in the Mass as we shall see.
The human nature of Christ is the means and instrument through which the Eternal Word performs God's will for redeeming human beings from sin. This is how he "lives (present tense)" as God and man to make intercession for us. During his earthly life Jesus of Nazareth, God the Son/Word was, indeed, particularly present to location as a specific man with the constraints and limitations of human nature as to time and place, but he is not a human person, he is a divine person.
As a divine person the Eternal Word continued to be omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent, and Jesus is the Eternal Word of God who became man, in which the human nature he takes for himself becomes an instrument of his divine person.
In Jesus, the divine and human nature subsist in the one person of Jesus Christ who is divine, so at the same time we see both omniscience and finite knowledge, omnipresence and particular location, omnipotence and limitations present in the same person, but not the same nature.
As stated, the human nature of Jesus, body and soul, is one in substance with his divine, omnipresent person, but his human nature has all the limitations and constraints of human nature, so it cannot be said that the human nature of Jesus is present to all of time and place by virtue of his human nature. However, his human nature which is one in substance with his divine person serves as an instrument and function of his omnipresence as a divine person. As an instrument of his omnipresent divine person in whom there is no limitation as to time and place the human nature of Jesus is present to all of time and place.
In fact, this is the reason we are able to receive the VERY SAME BODY and BLOOD of the LORD, with all of the constraints and limitations of human nature still in place, at Holy Communion 2,000 years AFTER Jesus walked the streets of Jerusalem. Jesus does not have a different human nature at Holy Mass, it is the very same human nature he took from the Blessed Virgin Mary. He is present to us body, blood, soul, and divinity even now because the human nature of Jesus is an instrument of his omnipresence as the 2nd person of the Trinity. The body and blood of the Lord is present at every Mass that is said, and in every tabernacle where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved throughout the world, but there is more to consider.
In the Eternal Word of God there are no parts or segments of omnipresence because that would mean there is mutability to omnipresence which is impossible in the essence of an immutable God. The specific limitations of Jesus's earthly existence are a function of the eternal Word's omnipresence, omniscience, and omnipotence, as a divine person because in Jesus the man the Eternal Word had united to a particular human nature that is one with the 2nd Person of the Trinity.
Jesus even spoke of this as the God/Man. The 2nd person of the Trinity did not take flesh until he took flesh, therefore the human nature of Jesus was not present before the time of Abraham, but once Jesus took flesh his human nature (with all of its constraints and limitations) being an instrument of his omnipresence, he can and did in fact say as both God and man "Before Abraham came to be I AM." He did not divest himself of his human nature to say this. If you deny this you deny his divinity which is exactly what the Jews did when he told them he was before Abraham as a divine person now incarnate as the God/man. This is in fact why the Jews set out to kill him because they knew Jesus was claiming to be God when he said this. This was a claim to be present to all of time as a divine person who is now God and man, now in time and outside of time at the same time. He said this as God and man which only God can claim as man.
Jesus also said to his church "I will be with you to the end of time." Consider Jesus speaking to the Apostles when he said that. He did not say "I will be with you till the end of time as a divine person after I shed my human nature."
By saying "Jesus is present to all of time and place in his human nature" we are not saying his human nature grows in size until it becomes bigger than the universe, it would be absurd to say such