Tuesday of Week 2 in Ordinary Time
1 Sam 16:1-13
“The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath”
For the Jewish nation, sabbath starts Friday evening until Saturday evening. This was instilled from the time of Moses. For Christians, sabbath is observed on Sunday, the day our Lord resurrected.
Today’s gospel is a very good reminder for us all about our attitude towards Sunday Mass.
In the current cultural climate, the number of Catholics attending Sunday Mass has been declining, even before the pandemic. There could be various factors and it is beyond the scope of this little reflection to cover them all. Perhaps it is the thought that religion is no longer fashionable, or the thought of relative truth that prevents Christians and non-Christians alike to learn about Christ.
As for Catholics who are not actively practicing their faith, even for Catholics who are practicing, there is this attitude that Sunday Mass is a chore that ‘I can’t wait to get it over with and get on with my day’.
We think that Sunday Mass is an obligation, a sacrifice to appease God. If we go to church on Sunday, then it’s all good between God and us. If you think that even for a second, I am afraid you are misled, as was I.
I used to think that Sunday Mass is an obligation that fulfils most of the requirements of being a Catholic. I didn’t understand that the Mass itself is a wedding banquet that we are all invited to. The food that is offered, the Eucharist, is the most precious thing we can receive. It feeds not our physical self, but our soul.
It is during Mass that the three Persons of the Holy Trinity are present — the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. It is then that we can be in communion with our God. Although the Father and Holy Spirit are not visible to us, we can receive Jesus in the Eucharist. Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist (I am not sufficient in explaining this, but if you are interested in finding out, look to the bible study programme by the Augustine Institute called “Presence”).
In my misguided interpretation, I thought that God needed and wanted our worship. Boy, was I wrong. Think about it. Our Heavenly Father, the Creator of all things, Infinite and completely Good, lacks nothing. He does not need us, nor our worship. He is not some lonely old man that needs companionship. He has His Son and the Holy Spirit.
Let me repeat, God does not need us or our worship. We only exist because of His love for us. In turn, He only wants our love. That is what all relationships are about. Healthy relationships are not one-sided. God gave us His only Son, and out of justice, we owe Him the best we can give.
What does that have to do with Sunday Mass? Everything. Jesus didn’t give us the Mass or the Eucharist to inconvenience us. He gave them to us because He knew we would need it to survive this world. The Mass, the Church and all other practices are tools for us to find rest, to find communion with Him and others. During the celebration of Mass, we re-present the sacrifice of His Son, His life, death and resurrection for the glory of God and the salvation of the world. While we celebrate the Eucharist, it is a reminder that we are loved beyond belief — that we are saved and our ransom has been paid. When we gather in a church with others, we are in a community of like-minded people who understands and supports our faith.
To paraphrase Jesus’s words, He didn’t make man to benefit the sabbath, but he made the sabbath to benefit man.
Still think Sunday Mass is a chore? Think again.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Winnie Kung)
Prayer: Dear Lord, help us to prepare ourselves to receive you in the Eucharist. Help us to prepare our hearts, our minds and our souls to be in communion with you.
Thanksgiving: Heavenly Father, we thank you for giving us the sabbath, to find rest in You, to glorify and worship You by re-offering the sacrifice that Jesus made for our salvation.