Yesterday seemed like I participated in the tradition of “The Airing of Grievances” as celebrated in Festivus. I’ve grown frustrated over the years seeing people who were once active in their faith who have now completely put it on the shelf. In today’s Gospel, I get the impression Jesus is doing the same thing with His disciples (and the great crowds following Him) telling them you’re either all in or you’re not. In some ways, I feel like I am actually living out that Gospel today. Let me try and explain.
Let me preface this by saying my parents, my in-laws, my wife are the people who have made me the christian man I am today. I don’t want to come off as a braggart in writing this but I am nonetheless proud of my faith and my love for God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. I know without Them I am nothing.
My frustration these days mostly stems from my experience with people – not just people, but close friends, family, parishioners – who have abandoned the practice of attending Mass on Sunday. In the Catholic faith (which is the one I profess), the Mass is the source and summit of all we do…as a Catholic, Sunday Mass (as with other specific Holy Days) is an obligation. Remember to ALWAYS keep holy the Sabbath. Obligation (something by which a person is bound or obliged to do certain things, and which arises out of a sense of duty or results from custom, law, etc.) is the word our Mother Church uses to tell us how to approach our attendance at Mass on Sunday. Let me offer a few other words…Honor, Privilege, Necessity, Fulfillment. Don’t look at attending Mass as something you have to do, but as something you want to do, you need to do. Attending Mass should be something you look forward to doing, the HIGHLIGHT of your week. Something you can’t wait to get back to. In writing this, I am drawn to the the first verse of today’s responsorial psalm…
Blessed the man who fears the LORD,
who greatly delights in his commands.
His posterity shall be mighty upon the earth;
the upright generation shall be blessed.
Who greatly delights in HIS commands. God’s demands should be a delight. God’s demands foster love. We are constantly told this in the Bible…we are being told this today.
Brothers and sisters:
Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another;
for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.
The commandments, You shall not commit adultery;
you shall not kill;
you shall not steal;
you shall not covet,
and whatever other commandment there may be,
are summed up in this saying, namely,
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Love does no evil to the neighbor;
hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.
Whatever commandment there may be can be summed up in saying You shall love your neighbor as yourself…love is the fulfillment of the law. Let me end this post of “the airing of grievances” by saying one of the commandments is to keep holy our Sabbath, keep holy our Sunday and the Mother Church tells us this is an obligation. If we want to learn true love, true self-sacrifice, true freedom – the best place to either start your week or end your week is at Church celebrating the source and summit of our faith. What started out as “I have to go to Mass on Sunday” for me has now turned into “I am blessed to go to Mass on Sunday.”
Do something great for our Lord today – stop offering excuses that keep you from Mass and start accepting the obligation, the honor, the privilege that the Mass truly is for us.
God’s will, not mine, be done.
Be not afraid; just have faith.
Jesus, I trust in You.
He must increase; I must decrease.
But you, man of God, pursue righteousness,
devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness.
Compete well for the faith.