In one of his first sermons (and how refreshing it is to hear a pope actually preaching in simple, uncomplicated, challenging language!) Pope Francis warned about the danger of a...
While still finding ourselves in the first weeks of a new year I want to suggest a special, indeed urgent, focus …. the recapture of the very special acknowledgement and
PRACTICE of the LORD’S DAY, SUNDAY! Even if you are a devotee of the Saturday evening ‘observance’ Mass it must always be remembered that this practice fulfils only one aspect of the SUNDAY observance.
THIS SUNDAY’S OLD TESTAMENT READING [NEHEMIAH 8: 2 – 4a. 5 – 6. 8 – 10]
tells us that “this day is holy to the Lord your God.” The phrase is actually repeated twice. There is another phrase which appears twice – “… the assembly both men and women and all who could hear with understanding.” What is it that we do not understand about the Lord’s Day?
I still hear many good folk tell me during the Sacrament of Reconciliation that I missed Mass on Sunday. More and more I ask a gentle question: what do you mean by missingMass? Is it that you missed not being part of the assembly or missed not hearing the Word of God proclaimed and explained …. missed in the sense that one misses not having seen a famous play, attended a concert, a birthday celebration, the family Christmas dinner, or perhaps missing the jackpot? After that I ask “how did the rest of Sunday go? Was it a good family day?”
At the same time there is another aspect of this Old Testament extract which is, perhaps, all-important. We are told –
“go your way, eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to him for whom nothing is prepared … do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Our Sunday observance includes the concept of having fun, of enjoying a family celebration, and some sort of specific outreach to those let fortunate than ourselves. Sunday is not intended to make us sombre, downcast, or hold back on matters to be enjoyed. An essential part of our Sunday observance is to introduce an entirely different dimension into one special day which in a particular way belongs to God-in-Christ.
So, we have assembled with the general believing community, heard the Word proclaimed and explained, participated in the sharing of the bread and wine – but what do we do afterwards AS A RESULT of this one part of our observance? What has happened to the custom of Sunday Family Luncheon (or even braai)? A day when family and friends get together and recreate (
RE – CREATE themselves for the working week that lies ahead – the week full of challenges, problems and difficult situations which we need to address and solve AS BELIEVING CHRISTIANS? What has happened to the family picnic, the family drive to visit a new or half-forgotten place, fathers and mothers playing games with sons and daughters?
So there is a Cricket Test Match in progress … why not the whole family attending together – and interrelating (hopefully without the aid of machines like ‘tablets’!!) on the foundations received at the faith assembly which has been attended? Remember at the end of each Mass we are
SENT FORTH INTO THE WORLD TO LIVE CHRISTIAN LIVES OF WITNESS.
This is a challenge which
MUST be faced. The manner in which we celebrate Sunday is THE basic foundation on which we build the week ahead. MASS IS NOT ENOUGH! After Mass we are supposed toenjoy ourselves not as isolated individuals but as FAMILY! Sunday remains our holy day. It is a day which must be WHOLE and during which we recapture for ourselves, both as individuals and family, the sense of being a WHOLE people. We must be wary of living fragmented, compartmentalised lives. This often results in bewilderment and a sense that our lives are in pieces.
TODAY’S PSALM [ 19]
tells us that “the law of the Lord is perfect; it revives the soul …. it gives wisdom … gladdens the heart … gives light to the eyes.” We ignore this at our own peril.
What is it that prevents us from really understanding what the Lord’s Day is all about?
the other two readings will be integrated into next week’s reflection}