Being a fan of science-fiction one of my favourite classic sci-fi stories is ‘The Time Machine’ by H.G. Wells. With the proper setting of dials and switches, anyone who stepped into the machine could be transported back in time to any period of history. Now ‘The Time Machine’ was the product of H.G. Wells’ vivid imagination. No device, as yet, can transport us back in time. We are bound by time. But are we really? Is it possible that somehow events of the past are not beyond our grasp, at least by the almighty power of God? After all, God himself isn’t limited by time or space, having no past and no future. All is present for God.
In the Mass God uses his power to transcend time. Now we shouldn’t think of the Mass in terms of a time machine, even though people in the Middle Ages, thought that time stood still when they went to Mass. The liturgy doesn’t thrust us back in time, but God does make the sacrifice of his Son present to us so that we can share in it. Christ died only once and he cannot die again as the first reading tells us. The Mass in no sense makes Our Lord die again. Rather the one sacrificial death which Our Lord offered on the Cross is made present for us on this altar.
We are not deprived of sharing in the sacrifice of the Cross by an accident in time. The fact that we have been born long after this saving event makes no difference to God. Nor need we be envious of Our Lady who had the privilege of standing at the foot of the Cross, and who joined her Son in the offering of himself for the salvation of the world. By the power of the Mass we have the same privilege as did Our Lady, and she is our model as we offer the Mass in this place, today.
The Mass is not a time machine, but it is the reality of Christ’s sacrificial death made present for us upon this altar.