A HOMILY FOR THE TWENTIETH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – CYCLE “B” – 8/19/18 – SMG
+ Pax et Bonum! Peace and goodness to you this day!
Obligations. We all have obligations. We don’t like the word “obligation” because it denotes something that we are being told to do. And we don’t like being told what to do. Sometimes we have big obligations that we don’t look forward to, and sometimes we have small obligations, that aren’t such a bother, but still must be taken care of. For example, we are obliged to pay our taxes and renew our license plates, for the government. They might not be our favorite obligations, but you get used to them. We have family obligations like going to your son’s soccer game, or your daughter’s piano recital, or taking an older relative to a doctor’s appointment. Perhaps you’d rather pull your fingernails out, than attend one more soccer match, or piano recital, or doctor’s appointment, but you still do them, because you love your family. And you want them to be happy and healthy! And of course we have many obligations to our work and our employers, to do a good job, to put in a fair day’s work, and to work as a team to accomplish the goals of the business. And we do all of these work obligations because we like to eat, and like to have a comfortable house, and a car, and a cell phone! Hopefully, in all our obligations, we find the value to keep doing them for the right reasons, for honorable reasons, and they become much less obligations, something that we are told that we HAVE to do, and much more expressions of our love, our commitment, and our good citizenship. Sometimes it is just in how we look at obligations, that makes them obligations, or commitments!
Today we continue to read St. John’s Gospel, Chapter Six, the chapter on the Bread of Life. See I told you, it goes on and on. It’s like the Energizer Bunny! Today, I want to talk about another part of the Mass, but this week it is NOT a part of the Liturgy of the Word OR the Liturgy of the Eucharist. In fact, it is NOT really a part of the Mass at all, but it is very important. And that is, the Sunday Obligation for us, as Catholic, to go to Mass on Sundays.
As Catholic Christians, we take this obligation very seriously. In fact, we as Church say, that NOT going to Mass on Sunday, and also on Holy Days of Obligation, can be a mortal sin. Now it can be, if we miss Mass deliberately or on purpose. IF we are sick, or there’s bad weather, or we are taking care of someone, or even if we are traveling and are not near a Catholic Church, then that’s not a mortal sin, unless we planned it that way. But the deliberate choosing to miss Mass, for convenience, or rest, or golf, or shopping, or a NASCAR race, or even to sleep in, here’s where we get into mortal sin. You see, missing Mass on Sunday deliberately, choosing something over God, is connected to both the First Commandment, “You shall not have false gods before Me.” And the Third Commandment, about “Keeping Holy the Day of the Lord”. Missing Mass on Sundays then becomes a breaking of two of the Ten Commandments. We don’t want to that!
Plus, the Catholic Church has long taught that we need this spiritual food, we need this Bread of Life, this Eucharist, at least once a week, to stay strong as Catholic Christians! We can call it an obligation or anything that we want, but not going to Mass on Sunday, is the spiritual equivalent of not eating for a week, and then wondering why we don’t feel well? We need this food! We need to come to Mass on Sunday! We need the Bread of Life! Without it, there’s no life in us!
I can remember very clearly when I was a kid, in our neighborhood, having in depth theological discussions about this, with the other neighborhood kids. This was usually when the
other kids wanted to play ball on Sunday mornings, and the Haines boys couldn’t play, until they got home from Sunday Mass. The other kids, which included kids from a couple of Baptist families, a Methodist family, and one family that went to what was called “The Word of Life Church”, they didn’t understand why we as Catholics had to go EVERY Sunday? I can remember one kid telling my brothers and I that “Well, we’re Baptist, and we just go one Christmas and Easter, and my Dad says that that is enough for us.” How many Catholics do we have that say the same thing?
My brothers and sisters, at some point, it has got to become more than an obligation. We are supposed to be here out of love, love for God and love for one another. We are supposed to want to be here at Mass. We need this Spiritual food, we need this encounter with God, we need His help and we need the strength that we get from coming to Mass. Most importantly, we need the peace that God gives us when we come to Mass! This is SO much more than an obligation. This is the opportunity of a lifetime, and we can go to Mass every day!
But if we don’t understand that yet, if we’re not seeing what God is doing at Mass, then let it be an obligation. Obligations can be great things if they do what they need to do, to get us to do the right thing.
We need to be at Mass every week! We need to come as a family every week. It’s what we do as Catholics! The Sunday Obligation is still a part of the Mass. May it become an obligation that for all of us, is easy to fulfill! And one that we want to fulfill, every Sunday!
+ May God bless us today and always, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… AMEN !!!
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us !!!