Come On! You are invited!
The story Jesus tells in the Gospel (Matthew 22: 1-14) this Sunday is very pertinent to our times. The king throws a banquet and the expected guests refuse to come. Let me get to the point in our world today. There can be any number of reasons given to skip Mass on Sunday: “It is my only day to sleep late.” “The soccer game is out in Port Jefferson.” “The Church is full of sinners so why go to Mass.” “I don’t get anything out of the Mass.”
“Many are invited but few are chosen.” I have a lot of sympathy for the pressures young families live with, between working long hours, chauffeuring over-scheduled kids, and feeling alone despite living in a world filled with noise and people. The deeper yearnings of the human heart are often lurking beneath the surface and I fear that we keep busy to bury the pain of feeling adrift on a whirlwind lacking in meaning and purpose. If we ever really stopped and listened to our inner selves, I wonder if we could bear the truth that silence may speak.
Now, if you are reading this reflection you may feel that I am preaching to the choir. I may very well be doing that but I am doing it deliberately because I want you who come to Mass to do two things. First, please pass this on to people in your family, workplace, and neighborhood. “The table is set. All we need is you.” Second, please be an apostle of the Eucharist. Please witness to the beauty of hearing the living Word of God and receiving the Body and Blood of Christ.
The king in the story treats those who refuse to come very harshly. This is not the way of Christ and it is not my intention in this reflection. It is my intention to urge all Catholic people to make Sunday Mass a real priority EACH week. Let’s go back to the reasons given above. Sunday may be your only day to sleep. But there are Masses on Saturday evening and on Sunday evening either in one’s own parish or in a neighboring parish. Why come? Because Jesus Christ is there in His Word and in His Body and Blood. We do not save ourselves. We are saved by the gracious love of God.
As for soccer games (“Indeed, there is a god and his name is not soccer”), there is nothing wrong with sports but there is something wrong with idolatry. Sports are a great benefit for everyone, especially young people. But I have two concerns that I ask you to consider. First, I think our children are over-scheduled and are expected to perform. This can create too much pressure and is not healthy. They are kids. Let them be kids. They need leisure to grow and they need to befriend themselves and be comfortable being themselves and not always meeting the expectations of others. You worry too much and to0 early about college scholarships. Do you really need to plan out your children’s’ lives? And whose dreams are you fulfilling? Take a deep breath and give your kids a break! Second, on several levels this is a question of priorities. Please make room in your busy lives for God. This life is really not all there is.
If you don’t come to Mass because you think we are all sinners, please don’t let that deter you. We are all sinners and so one more wouldn’t hurt. We are here because we know we need God. I hope you do too. And if you don’t come to Mass because you don’t get anything out of it, you won’t get anything out of it if you don’t bring anything too it. Bring your questions and your fears; bring the loneliness that you try so hard to avoid; bring your doubts about God and the Church and together we can search for God, praise God and support one another along the way.
And finally, to those who already come, get ready. You and I may need to move over and even change when “they” come.
Rev. James M. McNamara