I’ve been reflecting on different ways that Christians worship God. Here are several that came to mind:
-Giving and sacrificing of self (including money, material goods, time, gifts, talents, fasting, martyrdom, etc.)
Some of these things can be witnessed in any Christian church service. Some of them are daily activities, such as the self-sacrifice godly parents give their children in service to God, or the work one does at a job with a godly attitude. Some are more extreme than others. All of them are good ways to worship God. We offer all of them to God in worship. All of them have one thing in common: they are blemished. They are not perfectly spotless.
There is only one thing we can offer God that is perfectly spotless and without blemish: the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. That’s why a worship service filled with musical praise and inspirational preaching is good, but not perfect. All of those things involve our hearts and our bodies. All of those things are both spiritually and physically lifted up to God. But, even at their best, they are still imperfect.
In the Catholic Mass, Christians are provided the opportunity to join our hearts, our bodies and our imperfect efforts in lifting up to God the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, perfectly spotless and without blemish. We are not only to lift him up “in Spirit” but also “in the flesh,” for it is his flesh that he gives for the life of the world. He gave us the Spirit partly so that we could have his flesh transubstantiated into the form of bread and wine and available to offer to God as the perfect worship.
Think about it this way. Before Christ, all we could spiritually or physically offer God was imperfection. Now we have a choice: our own physical and spiritual imperfection or the spiritual and physical perfection of Jesus Christ.
No matter how good the music is, no matter how inspiring or convicting the preaching is, no matter how good or blessed a worship service makes you “feel,” the worship is physically and spiritually blemished unless Jesus Christ himself is spiritually and physically (i.e. completely) lifted up to God. That’s why Jesus instituted the Mass. He gave us the Mass so that we could worship perfectly with our whole self joined physically and spiritually to him. The Mass is the height of Christian worship. “This is my body, this is my blood.”