I do not know whether the parish in which you celebrate Sunday Eucharist and worship recites the Entrance Antiphon (it may be replaced with an appropriate hymn), or – perhaps – it appears in the weekly bulletin? So, I reproduce it here:

“God himself is my help. The Lord upholds my life. I will offer you a willing sacrifice; I will praise your name, O Lord, for its goodness.”

Now, refer to the contents of THIS WEEK’S PSALM [22 or 23]. There is a clear message for us. This message must become one of the essential foundations to our living the life of a Christian disciple.

God himself is my helpThe Lord is my shepherd.

The Lord upholds my lifethere is nothing I shall want … you are there with your crook and staff.

I will offer you a willing sacrificeIn the Lord’s own house shall I dwell.

I will praise your name for its goodness …surely goodness and kindness shall follow me all the days of my life.

Now, the Entrance Antiphon provides the real focus to our Sunday Eucharist, and is the overall theme of that worship. So, this week, our community worship is supposed to remind us not only of our basic need to WORSHIP our living and loving God (lay our lives and living before him), but also to acknowledge the fact that the Lord is our basic life-support system.

In addition, the Psalm reminds us that, even if unacknowledged at the time, God-in-Christ was powerfully active in our past, and will be the same in both our present and future. This is what we believe and to which our worship is supposed to give practical expression.

We need to worship our God on a regular basis. Why, some may ask? The reason is very simple … because unless acknowledged, we will be quick to forget the LIVING PRESENCE, POWER AND INFLUENCE OF GOD’S ACTIVITY AND GOODNESS IN OUR ORDINARY, DAILY LIVES. We are dependant on the Lord. He is our origin, our ongoing source of power, and our destination.

“In Christ Jesus, you that used to be so far apart … have been brought very close. … to create one single New Man in himself … reconcile(d) with God …. through him … our way to come to the Father.” These words from SUNDAY’S NEW TESTAMENT EXTRACT [EPHESIANS 2: 13 – 18] tell us that Jesus Christ has brought us close to God the Father. Worship empowers us to bring ourselves and our living close to God-in-Christ.

This is why we could fruitfully re-evaluate the Church’s ‘law’ by which an obligation (under pain of sin) is imposed on Catholics to attend Mass on a Sunday?! I myself, together with many others, have for many years been uncomfortable with this law. If people come merely to satisfy an obligation, have they come to WORSHIP? If the Commandment of God himself tokeep the Sabbath holy is insufficient, what possible difference can the law of the Church make? Surely fear of sin is not an honourable motive for worship? {Is there a prophetic voice in the Church seeking a new approach?}

THIS SUNDAY’S OLD TESTAMENT SCRIPTURE [JEREMIAH 23: 1 – 6] tells about the LORD’S concern for his people. A real part of that concern is the need for the pastors (shepherds and leaders) of the Church not to allow the flock to be “destroyed and scattered.” The prophet makes it clear that when this does happen the Lord himself steps in (recall our Entrance Antiphon and the Psalm), and makes provision for the Church to “dwell in confidence.”{Confidence should not be synonymous with arrogance or presumption.} This action of God should never be seen as a magic wand. The Lord works through men and women, and very often when any appointed shepherd is found wanting it falls on those who may not be formally appointed to take up the slack. This we can all do – often in small ways – even when the shepherds are doing their best.

The GOSPEL READING [MARK 6: 30 – 34] makes it clear that roles of leadership in the Church are often both taxing and trying (even for a saint!). We read that while Jesus had insisted the disciples rest, he himself takes up the load “and set himself to teach them.” There are indeed many ways and ministries through which the laity may take up the slack – and being called, all should do so.

Remember what was said recently about the need to move away from a priest-orientated Church?