I’m a very very beginning exegete, and the sort of Exegesis 101 rule for the Old Testament that they give you is “Everything in the Old Testament is about Jesus.”
I’d like to propose a new Biblical exegesis 101 rule: everything in the Gospels is about the Mass.
I mean, just off the top of my head:
The Prodigal Son. Everybody knows in the parable of the Prodigal Son you have the father who is the God-figure, and the two wayward sons. But where’s Jesus? He’s the fatten calf. He’s the meal! The party that the Father is throwing is a Mass! That’s why everybody is invited (that’s why you would slaughter the fatten calf). The table is an altar. It points to the Wedding Feast of the Lamb from Revelation, which as we all know is a Mass. (It’s the fact that Tim Keller, a Calvinist, totally misses this dimension in his otherwise outstanding Prodigal Son lecture that got me excited enough to write this post.)
The Wedding at Cana. This one is fairly obvious, but still. Again, we have a wedding feast. Water turns into wine. It’s the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, which ends with the Passover Meal. Jesus’ public ministry is bookended by the Mass.
The Transfiguration. Two dead giveaways. The first and obvious one is that Jesus is made truly present to the apostles in a new and revealing way. The second one (which too often goes unmentioned) is the communion of saints. Moses and Elijah are there. The Mass is an earthly expression of the communion of saints. During the Mass, the Heavenly Choir of Angels sings God’s glory. The entire communion of saints gathers to witness a (kind of) transfiguration and to be in the presence of Jesus and worship him.
Feeding the Multitude. Pretty obvious, that one. (FOOD => MASS. #HighlyAdvancedExegesis) But still. Jesus feeds his people. With bread. That he (the priest) gives thanks for and blesses, and then a miracle happens to the bread. This event appears in all four Gospels, and in all four Gospels Jesus looks up to Heaven and says a blessing. We have to imagine that it wasn’t a brief or commonplace blessing, but that it was a true liturgical prayer, if all four gospel writers noticed it enough to mention it.
The Healing of the Deaf-Mute Man. I love this story, because it summarizes the entire Gospel. Jesus heals us, and says Ephphatha, be open. Be open! Be open to grace. Be open to the Gospel. (By the way, the grace of God opens us, but then it’s up to us to cooperate with that grace. #CatholicPitches) What else happens? Jesus puts his saliva on the man’s lips and tongue. What an incredible gesture! I can’t ever shake that image. Jesus and the deaf-mute man, face to face. Jesus licking his fingers and putting his saliva on him. Imagine Jesus Christ, the Lord, touching your lips so tenderly. It’s a kiss. In some ways, it’s even more intimate than a kiss. He’s the Word of God! He doesn’t need to mess around with saliva to heal a deaf-mute man. But he wants to! It’s communion. Jesus puts His body on the man’s tongue. That’s what opens him. He receives the Body of Christ.