Many Catholic theologians, apologists, and evangelists have said, “It’s all about Sunday!” What they mean is that not only is Sunday the Lord’s Day which we Catholics consider our weekly holy day of obligation (yes, Saturday evening counts too!), but it is on Sunday that we experience the greatest encounter with our faith community as well as visitors. There is no other experience that gathers us so profoundly. So, as Church, we are called to share the Good News, to evangelize. This isn’t simply what we are supposed to do, it is what the Church is! The Church exists to evangelize. So, there is no greater moment than Sunday Mass to hear the Word proclaimed, receive the Eucharist, and to be equipped to be sent out on mission. The word “mission” comes from the Latin word “to go out.” This is where we get the name of our Liturgy, “Mass.” The call to go out and proclaim the Gospel is such a potent reason to gather that we call our Liturgy, “The Mass.”
So, Sunday is the greatest time we can hear the word and be present to the Sacrifice of the Lord who gives himself to us in the Eucharist. Sunday is the most potent time for us ministers to preach the Gospel for the most people to hear at once. Our hope is that in the Mass, we are transformed, changed to become the saints we are called to be. It is also our hope that for those who are seeking, struggling, mourning, and suffering, the Mass will lift them up and give them the strength, through to God’s grace, to carry on in hope. Daily Mass holds these same graces, but Sunday Mass reaches over ten times the number of people. In marketing terms, this is called “distribution.” Sunday is the most potent and efficient day to distribute the Good News of Christ’s loving mission.
What Mass is not is merely a social hour. It is not just a time to see our friends. It is not a time to be entertained or watch people. Mass is not a weekend obligation that we must fulfill so that we don’t feel guilty. It is not a time for us to get together to encourage and/or isolate ourselves or shun the world. It is not a time to placate God, our spouse, or anyone else. It is not even about you. It is essentially none of these things. It is all about God and the saving work of his Son who poured out the Holy Spirit to vivify us to live the life of greatness for God. So, in that context, Mass is a time lay down our burdens before God and exchange our sorrows for joy. It is a time to offer our sacrifices to the Lord as well as conform ourselves to his likeness. It is a time to be challenged and wooed by the proclamation of God’s living Word. It is a time to love our neighbor who is sitting next to us and to be sent out into the world to love the stranger and even our enemy. Mass is a time allow the Holy Spirit in and change us from the inside out. It is a time to give God all the the glory. It is a time to let him change us…. to be recreated, renewed, renovated, rejuvenated, repented, redeemed, and reconciled. At Mass God calls us and changes us to be an alter cristus (Latin), another Christ for others. Sunday is all this and more. As people conformed to Christ, we must share this Good News so that others may also encounter him who can do all these things, as he has done for us. Sunday is a time for us to be Church, be Evangelizers, to proclaim the Gospel of the Lord in our words and lives.
So, if our lives as Catholic Christians is all about Sunday, then what does that mean for Christmas? Learn next week.
Fr. William Holtzinger