The Mystery of Faith

After the transformation of the wine into the Blood of Jesus, the priest then says, “The Mystery of Faith.” This phrase comes from St. Paul’s exhortation to the Bishop Timothy (1 Tm 3:9).

The context of this phrase is that prayers and supplications be offered for everyone since Jesus gave Himself as a ransom from eternal death for all who would accept Him.

This is why the expression, “The Mystery of Faith,” comes immediately after the transformation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of the Lord. His presence falls upon the altar because of His sacrifice on the Cross.

Those who take up their crosses of self-sacrifice in imitation of Christ express the mystery of faith so clearly shown on the altar.

There are three acclamations from which the congregation may choose to express agreement that the Lord is present in the bread and wine.

One acclamation comes from 1 Corinthians wherein St. Paul says that “when we eat this Bread and drink this  Cup, we proclaim Your death, O Lord, until You come again.”

Interestingly this acclamation retains the word “cup” instead of using “chalice.” This is indeed a reference to the Body and Blood of Christ on the altar, but it is also meant to remind us of what Jesus says to His disciples when they ask for special privileges.

When Sts. James and John ask Jesus that He grant them places of honor in the Kingdom, He asks them, “can you drink the cup that I drink?”

The metaphor of drinking a cup is Old Testament language used to refer to acceptance of some Godgiven destiny.

Psalm 11 says that, for the wicked, fiery coals, brimstone and scorching winds are “their allotted cup.” The  destiny of Jesus and His Apostles is divine judgment on the sins of the world and self acceptance of trials on behalf of the guilty.

This particular acclamation retains the use of the word, “cup” as a reference to the admonition Jesus gives to James and John and all who would become His disciple.

In order to come into the Kingdom of God given us through Christ, we too must accept the cup, or destiny given us by God. This involves self-denial. In an increasingly secular society, which ridicules the values of our  faith, we too become suffering servants of Christ in the ways we deny ourselves some of the so-called freedoms our culture tells us we need to be happy.

For people of faith, these freedoms are really forms of slavery because they make us wander aimlessly from one pleasure to the next in a constant search for nirvana.

When St. Paul says that we proclaim the death of the Lord when we eat the Bread and drink the Cup, he is referring to the fact that Jesus gives us Himself totally by acceptance of His God given destiny.

This led to His resurrection and we too must die to this world of sin in order to be worthy to rise with Jesus as well.

When we eat the Bread and drink from the Cup we accept our destiny of self-denial to express our fondness for the world to come.