Eucharistic Encounter 10: Value of a Mass

How could a little piece of paper weigh more than a side of beef? 

It takes place in a poor suburb of Paris in the mid-1800s. One day, this little old lady is walking down the cobblestone street with her cane in her hand. She’s very poor and very hungry, so she walks into a butcher’s shop. The butcher is behind the counter, and who’s at the counter is his old friend, a captain in the war, and the little old lady looks up and says, “Could you give me some meat so I could have something to eat?”

She was begging. The butcher was respectful and said to the woman, “Well, if I give you some meat so you’ve got something to eat, what are you going to give me?”

She was so sorry because she had no money. She felt humbled and embarrassed, and then she got an idea. “Well, I could go hear a Mass for you!”

He wasn’t much of a believer, but he was respectful and he was kind. “Okay, ma’am, you go hear a Mass for me, come back and we’ll see how much that is worth.”

So she walks down the block, and at the end of the block, there’s a Catholic church. She knelt down and heard a Mass for the butcher. (That’s what they used to call it, “hearing a Mass.”) At the end of the Mass, she prayed. Then she walked back to the butcher’s shop an hour or two later, and they were surprised to see her.

She said, “I just heard a Mass for you. So, would you give me some meat so I could have something to eat?”

The butcher said, “Let’s see how much that is worth.” He wrote on a sheet of paper, ‘She heard one Mass for me’, and took the piece of paper on the scale they use for weighing meat. Little by little the scale went down to the bottom. He walked to the refrigerator and grabbed a generous portion of ground beef, put it on the scale, and…

… it didn’t move. He fooled around with the weights, and it still didn’t move. The paper with the Mass on it weighed more than the pound of beef. He went back to the cupboard and got a honey-baked ham, ten pounds, and he put that on the scale. The scale didn’t move! He was astounded, and so was the captain.

He finally brought back a half-side of beef – I don’t know how he got it on the scale – but he set it on the scale and it didn’t move at all.

One single Mass is more valuable than anything. It’s an infinite amount of grace, worth much more than a side of beef, a honey-baked ham, and a pound of ground meat!

I tell this charming story to the children at summer camp to make the point: if you get to Mass frequently, it’s well worth it to be with Jesus. Bring your conundrums and your needs to Jesus in the Holy Eucharist!

I sure hope to see you at the National Eucharistic Congress next July. Relevant Radio will be there, and we’ll be broadcasting the Family Rosary Across America from the main stage every night of the event!


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Rev. Francis J. Hoffman, "Fr. Rocky" is the Executive Director/CEO of Relevant Radio and a priest of Opus Dei.