Sunday Mass doesn’t always get a great rap in Christian circles. This is interesting given the Lord keeps banging on about it throughout Sacred Scripture. Today’s readings are no different. I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world. Not really possible for Christ to be more direct than that. But Father, there is some problem with the homily/music/my neighbour/[insert your weekly parish irritation here]. Why, then does Jesus insist?
The first thing we can say about why the Eucharist is important is because it is the answer to our prayer. As we prayed in the entrance antiphon to this mass: Look to your Covenant, O lord, and forget not the life of your poor ones forever. Like all of Scripture and the liturgy, this text echoes a foundational cry of the hearts of each of us: God where are you? I am suffering. Help me quickly! In coming to us in Eucharist the Lord answers this cry of ours. And he comes to us not just in Spirit – as he does in Baptism and in Confirmation – but also to seal our incorporation into his own Body the Church he also comes to us in Corpus – that is in body. This is partly why Sunday Mass is so key to Christianity: because we see that God has heard our cry, that he has not abandoned us, and that he comes to not only talk to us, not only to see us, but to become part of us, Flesh with our flesh, Blood with our blood.
This is the Inheritance we speak about and we prayed for in our Collect today: bring, we pray, to perfection in our hearts the spirit of adoption as your sons and daughters, that we may merit to enter into the inheritance which you have promised. If we have participated in the Holy Mass then that inheritance is already part of our flesh now! Not later after we die but now, today, in the house where I live and in the workplace where I work and in the family I have received from the Lord. The only inheritance worth having of course is God. Because if we have God then we have everything – He is, after all, the source of all good things. And if we have God then we have infinite good because this is who God is – pure goodness and truth and beauty itself, or rather I should say Himself. Who does not want that?
A third reason Sunday Mass is essential is because we are not made to be without it. A Christian is not made to be able to survive their Christian journey all by themselves without going to church. This is because living without Sunday Mass is, for whatever reason, an exclusion of the others and a refusal of the humility of being part of a Communion which I myself personally don’t completely control and which on occasion and at times of life even frequently irritates me. This is not the way of love. To love someone is to receive them as they are with all their faults as well as all their gifts. Above all love is to lay down my life in view of the good of the other. Sunday Mass is of itself an opportunity to live this choice of love. Coming to Holy Mass is saying yes to love. As the First Reading points out, ‘Get up and eat, or the journey will be too long for you.’ And it’s funny you know – God’s request of us actually works: So he got up and ate and drank, and strengthened by that food he walked for forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. Strengthened by the Sunday Eucharist, we can reach full communion with God.