Consider the following scenario. You are crossing the street with a friend and suddenly as if out of nowhere a large truck is bearing down on you both. Your friend sees it coming and pushes you out of the way but takes the full force of the hit himself. Coming to your senses you run to your friend who lies dying in the road. In grief you lament his imminent death and thank him for saving your life. You say, “What can I ever do to thank you for what you have done?!” And he says, with his dying breath, “Please go to Church and remember me at the altar every Sunday.” ….Would you do it? …..Of course you would! This is the final wish of a dying friend who saved your life.
Well, isn’t this what Jesus did? Just before he died for us he left us a last request: “Do this in remembrance of Me.” Do what? you might say. Here is Jesus request in context: The setting is the Last Supper that Jesus had with his disciples on the last evening before he died. As he sat at table with them he said, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer…” Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you. So here is what we are to do in memory of Him: celebrate the Holy Mass, receive Holy Communion! It seems so little and yet so many have drifted away from this last request. It must have been important to Jesus since it was his final request.
So here is a powerful to get to Mass each Sunday: to fulfill the final wish of a dying friend, a dying Savior and Lord who saved your life, who died in your place: “Do this in memory of me.” The Book of Psalms also says it so well: “What return (what thanks) can I ever give the Lord for all the good he has done for me?! The cup of salvation I will take up, and I will call on the name of the Lord.” (Ps 116:13) What a beautiful line to remember as you see the priest lift up the Chalice at every mass and remember the final wish of a dying friend.
Consider sharing this sort of reflection with those who have drifted away from attending Mass. If attending Mass and receiving Holy Communion is understood as the final wish of a dying friend then to fail to do so is seen as a much more personal neglect of a a very profound and meaningful request. Missing Mass isn’t just the infraction of some abstract law, it is a personal matter. It is to refuse the final wish of a dying friend.