Photo: Pope Francis leads Benediction outside the Basilica of St. Mary Major on the feast of Corpus Christi in Rome June 4. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) 



hy do I keep emphasizing the importance of Sunday Mass? Why is it so important?

In the Gospel this Sunday we hear the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper. Jesus took bread and said: “Take it; this is my Body.” Then He took a cup of wine and said: “This is my Blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.”

The night before He gave His life out of love for us on the Cross Jesus gave us a way to continue giving Himself to us. This is precisely why the Mass is so important. It is at the heart of what it means for us to be Catholic, to follow the way of Jesus Christ. Jesus is present in the Mass in a most unique way, in a way richer and fuller than any other way He is present in our world and in our lives. Both in His living Word and in the Sacrament of His Body and Blood Jesus is giving Himself to us each time we celebrate Mass. As Catholics we gather on Sunday as the Lord’s Day and we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus each Sunday. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of Sunday Mass. The focus is on Jesus Christ. He is the reason why we gather.

The priest is secondary to Jesus. Hopefully the priest celebrates the Mass prayerfully and preaches a message of hope for us to live the Christian life. But we do not follow a particular priest when we come to Mass. We come to meet Jesus Christ and be nourished by Him in Word and Sacrament. The altar servers, the musicians, the lectors, the ushers, and the Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist all contribute to make the celebration uplifting and prayerful. But they too are secondary to the presence of Jesus Christ.

You may be reading this and feeling that I am preaching to the choir because you participate in Mass each week. Then be an apostle of the Eucharist and share this with family and friends and co-workers. Help them to see the importance of Sunday Mass. Yes, our lives are very busy. Yes, stores are open, sports fields are full, and people have to work on Sundays. Please invite them to worship at the altar of God, not at the altar of sports. Encourage them to slow the pace a bit and ask themselves what is the purpose of their lives, what really counts.

On Sundays we gather as a community around the altar of sacrifice with Jesus Christ our host. We are His guests and we come not only for our own benefit but for the benefit of others who may need us to offer them the gift of peace in the midst of a troubled time or may be uplifted in word and song as we praise and thank God together. We are not alone. We have one another and we have Jesus in our midst.

“Take it; this is my Body.” “This is my Blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.”

Why is it so important to come to Mass on Sunday, each Sunday? Because Jesus is here and He wants to love you.