Homily given for the 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time.
“Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Today we hear something very important from our Lord: it is vitally important to gather together in prayer. Gathering together on Sunday and other certain days of the year to be present and take part in the Mass is central to our lives. Sunday, the Lord’s Day, is not simply part of the weekend. No, it is a day in which we gather together to worship God, to thank Him for the blessings He constantly gives us, and to live the joy of the Resurrection. It is the eighth day, a day of hope in which we anticipate eternity with God.
This is why we have a real and serious obligation to come to Mass on Sunday. It is not an onerous burden to come to Mass, which lasts about one hour and is about .59% of the total hours in a week. Moms and Dads, do you give your children a good example and bring them to Mass with you every Sunday, even when you are on vacation?
It can be helpful to look to the lives of others in the Faith. Pope St John Paul II gives us some powerful witnesses to the need to go to Mass on Sunday. Many people in history witnessed to the Faith and were executed simply for going to Mass. some of these early martyrs explained their situation:
“Without fear of any kind we have celebrated the Lord’s Supper, because it cannot be missed; that is our law”; “We cannot live without the Lord’s Supper”.Yes, I went to the assembly and I celebrated the Lord’s Supper with my brothers and sisters, because I am a Christian”(Dies Domini).
This should challenge each of us, because we can see that people will literally risk their livelihood, their freedom, even their lives, in order to be able to attend on Sunday Mass. This is happening even today.
To skip Mass without a serious reason is a mortal sin. Why? It is so important to our lives in Christ, that to choose some other activity or to be too lazy to go to Mass is to say “I am more important than God”. If we have done this, we need to go to confession to receive the healing of the Church before we receive communion. Sometimes there is a situation that prevents us from getting to Mass, such as being home bound or physically not being able to get there. We should allow the witness of our brothers and sisters in the Faith to spur us on. In the Eucharist we are given a deep communion with our Lord and with our brothers and sisters who hold to the same Faith that we do-the mystical body of Christ.
The Lord’s day is not a day to simply be caught up in entertainment. It is a day to rejoice in the Lord and to experience the deep joy that only He can give. This joy is not simply a passing pleasure, but an enduring joy that we experience even in the greatest suffering. It is a sort of virtue that helps us endure even the greatest difficulty. Like any virtue, the more we practice, the stronger we will become. This day of the Lord we go to Mass and are nourished by sacred scripture, we are present at the sacrifice of Calvary, and we experience our Lord giving us His very body, blood, soul, and divinity in the Eucharist. Then we can truly be renewed–to be in communion with our Lord, to see our Lord in those people around us. To see the beauty of natural creation. To be filled with faith, hope, and love.
We need this weekly break from the routine of daily life to be constantly reminded of why you and I even exist: to know, love, and serve God, and to be with Him forever.