The words used by the priest while showing the assembly the Body and Blood of Christ reflect a theme already seen earlier in the celebration of the Mass. He says, “Blessed are those called to the Supper of the Lamb.”
When consecrating the wine into the Blood of Christ, the priest repeats the words of Jesus in saying, “this is the chalice of my Blood, the Blood of the new and eternal Covenant, which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
“For many” is not an expression used to indicate that Jesus died only for a few faithful people. This is a way of rendering the complexities of Jesus’ original spoken language into vernacular tongues that include ancient and modern languages such as Greek, Latin, and now English.
There is an intimate link, however, between the “many” spoken of in describing for whom the Blood of the Lord will be poured out and “those” who are blessed to be called to the Lamb’s Supper.
In the Gospel of St. Matthew, Jesus lays out the Beatitudes. He says that those who are poor in spirit, those who mourn, those who are meek, those who are hungry but thirst for righteousness, those who are merciful, those who are clean of heart, those who are peacemakers, those who are persecuted for righteousness, and those who are insulted because of Jesus are blessed by God because their reward “will be great in heaven.”
Contemporary culture, however, is opposed to Jesus’ Beatitudes. The poor in spirit are those who have confidence in God due to lack of worldly possessions, but our culture promotes self-confidence and homes full of possessions.
The Beatitude call to show mercy means turning the other cheek, but the world preaches vengeance. Righteousness is moral conduct in line with God’s will, but our secular society cannot seem to agree on whether there even is a God, much less what His will might be.
Increasingly Christians are told to be silent rather than to suffer for the name of Jesus.
The contradiction between Jesus’ Beatitudes and what the modern world defines as correct reveals the link between “the many” for whom Jesus died and “those” blessed to be called to the Lord’s Supper. Those who do His will are the many for whom Jesus died.
In the parable of the wedding feast Jesus describes the invited guests as having refused the invitation due to concern with their own possessions and business practices. Finally the servants are dispatched to round up everyone they can find. One person is found without a proper wedding garment. This person is thrown out and Jesus concludes by saying, “many are called, but few are chosen.”
In the Book of Revelation, those admitted into God’s Kingdom are dressed in a clean linen garment. The angel says the clean linen garment represents the righteous deeds of the many that have been found worthy. The angel asks St. John to write, “Blessed are those who have been called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.”
These words should not scare us. Regular participation in the Mass in memory of Jesus is a reminder that He pours out Himself for us. Christian discipleship means going out into the world and dressing ourselves in deeds of self-outpouring so that we may prove to be “those” ones chosen from the many called. The Mass is a dress-rehearsal for heaven.
Jesus died for all, but not all will be dressed in the good deeds necessary for the Kingdom. The many that are, remain blessed to be those called to the Supper of the Lamb both here and in the Kingdom to come.