Friday, July 23, 2010

The first Christian thing

“Kevin” asked the following questions in response to my post, “If you miss Mass…” (8/8/06): “Why is missing mass considered to be a mortal sin. How many people are attending church just because of this rather than because they want to. Would Jesus prefer me to spend that hour helping others? Having grown up a strict catholic, I like many others stopped going to church once I left school, but am now going back with my children. I am beginning to question whether Jesus would prefer me to spend the hour with my child doing Christian things such as helping others or attending mass.”

Thanks for your questions, Kevin. I addressed this way back in 2004 when this site was just a baby blog. Here are my bullet points for why we go to Church every Sunday:

-God says so in the 3rd commandment: "Keep Holy the Sabbath". We give Him the praise that He is owed.

-Jesus commanded us to celebrate the Eucharist together: "Take this all of you and eat it. This is my body which will be given up for you...Do this in memory of me"

-Jesus showed us how we are to worship God: when he worshipped the Father, it was with his friends, gathered around a table, and centered on a meal

-our obligation is not just to God, but to each other. We are a family of believers. Just like dinner in the home, every member of the family needs to be there for the family to be whole.

Regarding your point about doing “Christian things”, please remember that the first thing we do as Christians is love God. We love God first and foremost. Loving God means worshiping God. Being Christian means worshiping God. So, the first “Christian thing” that we do every week is to worship God. From there, everything else flows, including doing loving our neighbor.

The most Christian thing you can do for your children or others is to bring them to the Eucharist. You want them to get to Heaven, and Jesus promises that everyone who receives the Eucharist has eternal life (Jn 6). They, like all of us, need to be at Mass to receive the Eucharist. We can’t receive the Eucharist outside of Mass.

I make the bullet point that we need to be at Mass for others as well. To be Christian means to be in community….to be in communion with God and others. God wants us to worship Him together, not in isolated places or homes. We are a communion of persons.

Finally, there was an excellent point made in one of our comments this week. “Matt Shoemaker” posted the following comment about Sunday’s Gospel with Martha and Mary: “Couldn't it be also said that Mary represents the reasoning why we need to go to Mass every Sunday, to hear Christ and to see Him face to face in the Eucharist? While Martha's working and helping others is good stuff, the important thing is to take time out and be with Christ.” You and other bloggers might want to take another look at Sunday’s Gospel (Lk 10:38-42). Jesus says, “There is need of only one thing”. I said in my homily this one thing is the presence of God. We primarily and most fruitfully experience the presence of God at Holy Mass. So, for Catholics on Sundays, there is need of only one thing: to participate in Sunday Mass.

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