My Dear Good People,
I’ve more than once heard people say, “I don’t go to church anymore. I see too much hypocrisy there. People go up to Communion, then they cut off cars in the parking lot to be the first ones out after Mass.” And I’ve heard them say, “Half the people at Mass only go because it’s a commandment. They don’t go because they love God.” (ooh, that hurts.)
In today’s Gospel from Mark 1:21-28 we see that times haven’t changed much. In church today and in the synagogue of Christ’s time, we find saints and sinners–or so it seems. First we see Jesus entering the synagogue. Holiness personified. Then we see a man filled with the devil. Who is the hypocrite here? Is it Jesus, Who is God Himself and doesn’t need church but goes anyway? Or the man possessed by the devil who shows up for the Sabbath service?
Of course, neither. So why did Jesus come to the synagogue? And why did the possessed man come to synagogue? To encounter one another. Jesus, Who is goodness and holiness, met the man who wanted, needed to be saved–from himself and from the power the evil one had over him. Like the Jews in the synagogue, we come to church to worship God by our presence, and to be healed.
If you’re reading this you aren’t one of those who won’t go to church ‘because of the hypocrites.’ But today’s Gospel gives us a chance to ask ourselves, Why DO I go to Church? Because I have found my peace in God and I really need to be near Him. Or because I need to be near Him to find my peace in Him. Or a combination of the two.
The next time we go to Mass, let’s pray for a few minutes when we arrive. Lord, I’m here because I love you. I need You. And I want to encounter others who love You and who need You. These days we can’t stand around and talk after Mass. I really miss that. But at least we’re here together: You, most Holy God, and I, a sinner striving to be a saint. And the others? I don’t know what’s in anyone else’s heart. But You welcome us into Your embrace and You can reach into the broken places in each of us and heal us all.
If we’re still assisting at Mass through live-streaming or television, our prayer might be just a little different. I’m distracted, my Lord. Maybe I feel a little guilty. But I have this hunger to be near you, even when I can’t articulate it well sometimes.
Either way, we pray, I’m here today for You, Lord Jesus. You’re here today for each of us, saint, sinner and everyone in between. I love this Body of Christ that is the Church and we’re all being held in Your Heart this day. I thank you for that.
Make yourself at home in the Church. It’s yours, after all.
Jesus, meek and humble of Heart, make my heart like Yours.
With prayerful love,
Mother Marie Julie
and the Sisters of Charity,
of Our Lady, Mother of the Church