Today’s Scriptures describe various seekers and searchers. In a dream, young King Solomon is invited to ask God for a gift. He chooses well and requests an understanding heart that he might govern God’s people well. God answers his prayer, giving him great wisdom and so much more! In the Gospel parable, Jesus describes a merchant seeking fine pearls and a fisherman seeking a bountiful catch. Both are rewarded and, through discernment and wise choices, the best are kept.
Each Sunday, we, too, come to Mass as seekers and searchers. Sometimes we know what we long for. It may be a special grace, an answer to a particular prayer or a sign of forgiveness. At other times we simply seek an encounter with God that will nourish and sustain us for the coming week. And God fulfills our desire. Even before we seek him, God has been seeking us.
This experience of God’s presence which we long for comes in various ways. Sacrosanctum Concilium (the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy) #7 reminds us that Christ is present in the community that gathers to pray and sing, in the person of the priest, in the word proclaimed and in the consecrated bread and wine transformed into his body and blood.
We are very aware of Christ’s special presence in the gift of holy Communion. We receive the one who has loved us and has given his life for us. We recognize and reverence Christ’s presence with folded hands and a bow of the head before we receive holy Communion and in the time of prayer and silence.
In recent years we are more attuned to Christ’s presence when the Scriptures are proclaimed. Jesus, the Son of God, is the Word of God described in John’s Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Through the Scriptures, God speaks to us and touches our hearts, offering the invitation to grow into a deeper relationship with him. We listen attentively and take the Word to heart. We also recognize and reverence Christ’s special presence in the Gospel as we sing the Alleluia, process with the Gospel book, and stand for the proclamation of the Gospel. In a celebration at which the bishop is present, you will notice that he kisses the book of the Gospel after the proclamation, and blesses the people with the book.
Christ’s presence in the priest is evident as he stands and offers Christ’s sacrifice to the Father. Through ordination, he participates in Christ’s priesthood, representing Christ and acting in his person as he speaks the words of institution which transform the bread and wine. We recognize Christ’s presence in the priest as we respond to the greetings and invitation to pray, and join as he prays in our name.
Christ is also present in the community that gathers to worship together. He promised that “wherever two or three are gathered in his name” he is in our midst. The spoken and sung responses, common posture, the gesture of peace, the general intercessions, and the Communion procession are common prayers and actions that reflect the unity of the body of Christ and its head.
This Sunday, as we come to seek and find the Lord, perhaps we will be a bit more attentive to the many ways in which he is present.
Sr. Rehrauer is the diocesan director of Evangelization and Worship.