LR Restoration Mass of Thanksgiving

Homily delivered 26 September by Father Cockram

Why are we here today?

You may well say: “To give thanks to God for this beautifully restored place of worship”

And, of course, you’re right.

But perhaps today is a good time to look at this with a bit more focus.

Just how are we giving thanks to God? And apart from the completion of the restoration work, why do we need to do that?

Most especially, why are we doing it within a form of worship which we call “The Mass”?

What’s that all about? Why don’t we just sing a couple of hymns, listen to a bit of Holy Scripture, say a few prayers and then enjoy a bite to eat together as we congratulate each other?

Well, the answer lies in the words of Jesus which we’ve just heard.

When he said: “The Son of Man is going to be handed over to the power of men,”

he was talking about his death, about his execution.

If we want to know what God is like, the best thing we can do is to look at Jesus from Nazareth. We say that Jesus is the incarnation of God, which means that he is God in human terms.

Jesus was gentle, patient, kind, compassionate, accepting and forgiving. Jesus was love in a human body, and this is the nature of the God whom we worship.

The God of whom St John says:

“God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, so that all who believed in him should not perish, but might have everlasting life.”

Jesus is the love of God, and he died because he couldn’t stop proclaiming God’s love.

The message of the Cross is God saying:

“ You can despise me, reject me, ridicule me and beat me. You can even nail me to a cross to die, and I’ll still go on loving you.”

We are loved, all of us, whoever we are, whatever our religious tradition is, whether we believe in God or not. We are loved because we are all part of God’s creation. We are all part of that fountain of  life which springs from the loving creative energy of Almighty God.

When we’re drawn into a realisation of this love; we’re enabled to see much more clearly that love and sacrifice always go together. Our own human experiences teaches us this in any event; but when we see the death of Jesus as the sacrifice which draws God’s creation back to him, then we begin to see that this sacrifice was the most significant event in history.

On the night before he died, Jesus had supper with his friends. He took some bread and broke it. “This” he said, “Is my body which will be broken for you.” He poured out some wine and said “This is my blood, which will be shed for you and for many”

“Do this to remember me”.

When you remember something, you put it back together, you make it present again.

At the Mass, the sacrifice of Jesus, the sacrifice of God is made present to us. An event which happened in history is made present in our time.

Our offerings, our lives are joined to the sacrifice of Jesus and are given to God.

And they are given back to us as the very life of Christ himself.

Our humanity becomes infused with the divine and we are enabled to live the life of Jesus, the life of God. The life which will pass right through death to continue to give thanks to God in the company of all those whom we continue to love and who have gone before us.

This is why we give thanks to God. And yes, we can do it in a cathedral or in a shed. We can do it with hundreds of others or with one or two. But our natural instinct is to worship God in the best way that we can, bringing to him the best gifts that we can afford.

And so, we do it today in this beautiful church, lovingly restored as a mark of our love for him who first loved us.

May God bless you all. Amen.