Overall Introduction on the Masses (of Advent) with a Missionary outlook - “Until You come again”
The missionary nature is intrinsic in every mass, because it is the active community witness of the Christian faith of the participants. The link between the mass celebrated and the mission of the Church it is clear from the dismissal that sounds in the original Latin “Ite missa est” (hence the name mass for the Eucharistic celebration). As Pope Benedict XVI teaches us, “[The dismissal ‘Ite, missa est’,] helps us to grasp the relationship between the Mass just celebrated and the mission of Christians in the world. In antiquity, missa simply meant ‘dismissal.’ However, in Christian usage it gradually took on a deeper meaning. The word ‘dismissal’ has come to imply a ‘mission.’ These few words succinctly express the missionary nature of the Church. The People of God might be helped to understand more clearly this essential dimension of the Church's life, taking the dismissal as a starting-point.” (Post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum caritatis, 22 February 2007, n. 51).
The missionary nature of the mass emerges even more clearly and reaches its culmination in the acclamation after the consecration of the bread and the wine into Christ’s body and blood. The priest proclaims Mysterium fidei “The mystery of faith”, and people answer: Mortem tuam annuntiamus, Domine, et tuam resurrectionem confitemur, donec venias “We proclaim your Death, O Lord, and profess your Resurrection, until You come again.”
This liturgical action highlights the vocation of every Christian in today’s world to be herald/witness of the paschal mysteries of Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection, until His second coming.
Indeed, in front of the Eucharistic Jesus, every participant is called to solemnly confirm the mission He Himself has entrusted to the Church, the community of the faithful: “Go and…tell”, “Go… and proclaim the good news”, “you will be my witnesses”. This mission must be carried out until the return of Christ, as recalled by the Second Vatican Council: “And so the time for missionary activity extends between the first coming of the Lord and the second, in which latter the Church will be gathered from the four winds like a harvest into the kingdom of God. For the Gospel must be preached to all nations before the Lord shall come” (AG 9). This means that our present time is always a time of mission, donec venias “until [You] come again”.
This general liturgical-missionary context should be experienced particularly in the Eucharistic celebration of the days and Sundays of Advent, when, through the prayers and readings provided for each Mass, the aspect of waiting for the Lord’s coming is emphasized.
Picture: P. Marko I. Rupnik, Chapel of the Pontifical Roman Major Seminary, Apse, Annunciation - Rome, Italy