We take it for granted that earth is uniquely created to sustain life. More than just the right mix of gases in the air we breathe, but even just the change of seasons that are necessary for the cycle of life is something we almost never think about. The earth’s axial tilt of 23.4 degrees that makes the seasons possible, our distance from the sun that ensures we’re neither too hot nor too cold, all of the physics involved in the water cycle, the biology involved in decomposition and nutrient reabsorption, the biological chemistry involved in the CO2-oxygen cycle, and countless other systems that must exist so perfectly for earth to sustain life are simply mind-boggling. Yet we never pay them much mind once we pass our science tests in elementary school. We breathe in, we breathe out, life just… is. Obviously, they are all work of a supreme being, a God so powerful and amazing that in just three days He created not just life, not just everything necessary to sustain life, but also all the math and science building blocks needed to make the light and the water and the land on which life could grow. While scientists exclaim, “We can do everything God can do! We are on the verge of being able to create life out of a handful of dirt!”, God just chuckles and says, “Go make your own dirt.” Even a handful of dirt is extraordinary when you stop to think about it.
Soon many people will take trips for spring break. Others will go on a big family trip over the summer. Some of these trips will be to locations that are far different from boring old Columbus, Ohio. And when we go to these places, we can’t help but gawk and stare at things we’re not used to seeing: Different plants, different styles of architecture, oceans, mountains, or 1000-year-old buildings. But what’s interesting to watch is the locals. They walk by oblivious to all the richness and beauty that surrounds them. They’re used to it. Oh, a beautiful sunrise over the mountains? They see it every day. They’ve seen it their whole lives. It’s ordinary. It’s boring, nothing special. Sure it’s pretty, but to them, it’s not extraordinary, so why stop and stare when they’ve seen it thousands of times, all their lives? They have to get to work, they don’t have time to look at the sun coming up over a couple mounds of dirt.
How many things do we just pass by without thinking? How many extraordinary things have become ordinary in our lives? The gas we use to fuel our cars: it is the result of geological research, drilling, pumping, pipelining, shipping, refining, and trucking. Think of the engineering and chemistry that goes into every step of the process. The electricity that lights our homes and powers our modern way of life: it is the result of a variety of energy sources, transmitted across a giant grid, where it is divvied out in a controlled manner to everything from cell phones to refrigerators. Think of everything that goes into providing the power to turn on a simple light bulb. Yet we never marvel at it, we just flip the switch.
What about the Mass? Has the wedding feast of the Lamb become ordinary to us? By the time a practicing cradle Catholic is in their 40’s, they’ve been to Mass well over 2000 times. Is it still special? Do we still marvel at how the God of the universe, the God who set the earth on its 23.4 degree axis, the God who created everything out of nothing becomes present in the Eucharist? Are we appreciative of what happens at every Mass? Or has it become ordinary? Do we treat the body, blood, soul and Divinity of God Almighty as if it were Ritz cracker, or do we revere it every time we are in His presence?
The fact that the God of the universe sent His only guiltless Son to die for our sins so that we may attain eternal life, and that He makes Himself present at every Mass in the Eucharist is something we should not get so used to that we don’t think about it anymore. It is not something we should take for granted. It is God the Most High, making Himself accessible to all for the salvation of our eternal souls. It is something so extra-ordinary that we should gawk in awe and amazement at every Mass, and revere He who created everything. May we never become used to the extra-ordinary events at every Mass. May we conduct ourselves in His presence with reverence, and invite Him into our hearts with a sense of gratitude and humility. And may we always live our lives in awe of He who created us all out of a mere handful of dirt.