Most times when we enter a church building we dip a hand into holy water and make the Sign of the Cross. Some of us might be able to remember the day when we were baptised but most we know will not. Yet we make this ritual act, perhaps even not thinking too much about it, in order to remember something we probably do not remember anyway: our baptism. It seems to me that this is good practice for while we are in church for Mass we will do some more remembering, but remembering in a way that is different than just calling to mind a historical event. In Mass we remember before God the self-sacrifice of God.
The Eucharistic Prayer makes clear that the whole Eucharistic celebration is a celebration of Christ’s sacrifice. We remember that Jesus, in submission to his Father and out of love for all of us, did not try to evade death but rather let himself be crucified. In this act we see what it is to be faithful to God the Father’s will. In this act we see what love really looks like: a body broken and given. Remembering Jesus’ death cannot be done simply by thinking about it. If we are to remember as we are called to remember, then we need to live as Jesus lived, think as he thought and act as he acted. We celebrate the memory of Jesus in the Eucharistic sacrifice by offering our own lives together with Jesus for the life of the world.
So, we see that while the Mass is a sacrificial act its purpose is not simply to celebrate and represent the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus. Rather we are drawn sacrificially into the pattern of his self-offering so that we may come to do the will of the Father too, obedient to God even unto death. The celebration of the Eucharist then becomes a mark of our conversion to a deeper life with God and to a more profound life of obedient listening to him. The celebration of this sacrifice then becomes not just a remembering but a challenge to us too. But we can meet this challenge for we remember that Jesus is alongside all that is broken in our own lives and in our world. He is broken for the healing of a broken world. That surely is worth remembering.