As I looked around me yesterday at the start of Sunday Mass at 9.30am in the Cathedral here in Darwin, I saw people from many parts of the world gathered together.
So many different ethnic backgrounds, races and cultures.
As I looked around I felt connected as with family.
Some who would normally be there were, for a variety of reasons, not present (after all it is school holidays and people are camping, etc.). I missed them.
I missed them in the same way I miss family who live far away. I know, of course, that far away family are still connected with me. However, I do miss not sitting down eating with them, being physically with them.
For a number of months we were not able to be present at Mass because of the Coronavirus. We connected through technology. During that time I missed experiencing what I experienced yesterday, being physically present with each other.
Why do we go to Mass? Sometimes people tell me that they don’t need to be at Mass to be Christian. That is true. Being Christian means that we have a relationship with Christ. It means living as Christ taught us.
We sustain this relationship with Jesus with prayer and consciously reflecting on our relationship and attitudes, and ensuring that we are living lives that reflect our faith and beliefs.
During Mass yesterday at the start of the Lord’s Prayer, the Our Father, I quoted the words of the great St. Augustus. He pointed out that the prayer that Jesus taught us is a community prayer. It starts off by saying ‘Our’ Father not ‘My’ Father, and continues right through reminding us that we are praying together.
While a personal relationship with God is important, essential even, it is not enough. God is ‘Trinity of Divine Persons’. In God’s inner life is the mystery of relationship, a community of DIVINE persons.
We are not alone in our spiritual journey. We are Baptised into community. If I am going to be health in my Christian life I also need to love my neighbour. Christian living also means Christian relationships.
God speaks to us through others in so many ways.
Gathering for Eucharist has been seen as necessary by the Christian community from the time of the Last Supper, the first Eucharist.
THE Eucharist is a mystery where we share in a most deeply spiritual way with the ‘Paschal Mystery’, i.e. with the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus.
We need to ensure good and meaningful celebrations of Eucharist. There is never any excuse for not continuing to celebrate relevant, prayerful, celebratory Eucharist.
However, even imperfectly celebrated Masses still have value. There is a deeper mystery taking place, bigger than the human imperfections of priest celebrant and others.
Each one of us can contribute to making the Eucharist better celebrated. The way I greet and smile at others, the way I pray, and so many other ways; we all need to own what is happening and to make our contribution.
There are many forms of community prayer. They can all be helpful on our journey. Central to them all is the Eucharist, the source and summit of all Christian worship.
Just going to Eucharist is not enough to live the Christian life!
Yet, without the Eucharist, we deprive ourselves of this great gift given to us by Jesus calling us to be healthy ‘living reminders’ of Christ and His message. This brings us face to face, in a sacramental way, with the mystery of our salvation.
It is about a balanced and wholesome spiritual diet!
It is about the big picture, a healthy antidote to a narrowing of spiritual vision!
It is nourishment!