In a craft store a few weeks ago, I ran into a woman who had been an active parishioner in one of the churches where I worked at one time. During the wide-ranging conversation, I casually asked if she was still at the church. “No,” she said. “We’re good people, but we don’t go to Mass anymore.”
I can’t get this conversation out of my mind. I don’t doubt they are good people, but there’s more at stake.
It’s the loss of intimacy with Christ through Eucharist that catches me up short in this conversation.. Other versions of this absence have been told to me this way:” I believe in Jesus, but don’t like coming to Mass… I prefer to pray at home, at the lake or in the woods…It’s enough… the pastor has changed and I can’t pray with the new one.”
Actually, followers of Christ – Jesus himself- have had times, maybe even long periods of solitude and separateness, but in the end, followers of Christ follow him together. Followers of Christ belong to a community of believers, from Biblical times, to this day. The author of Hebrews says “We should not stay away from our assembly (that is to say Mass) as is the custom of some, but encourage one another, and this all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10.25)
We are not solitary in our belief. We may have to find a different faith community, receptive to our spirit, but the search is not optional in the life of a follower of Christ.
Sunday Eucharist is a unique time of expressing our solidarity with the Lord and with one another.
We come to Sunday Eucharist with a continually changing inner landscape. Perhaps one of us is 15, and exploring what it means to be a human being, a sexual being, growing and changing in so many ways. The 15 year old looks across the aisle and sees an old married couple (you know, in their 50’s) –worshipping together. At the same time the youth draws encouragement from them, they draw encouragement from the fact that youth are there – sharing the table of the Lord, searching out the meaning of life with God.
On some given Sunday, or perhaps for weeks, we can’t pray. We go to Mass but that’s as far as it goes. No affect. No singing. A lump. On that day, we depend on others to pray in a way we can’t.
Yet another time, we are attuned. We sing and pray with energy. The readings and homily speak to our hearts, and at communion, we am awash in the presence of Christ.
We need each other to fill in what the other cannot be or do. We can stay away, bit when one of us isn’t present, there is a hole, a gap, a sadness. We are not spectators watching a scenario unfold. Each of us in important to the Eucharistic celebration. We are members of the Body of Christ and sustain one another. Become who you are.