Once again we are able to gather together for Sunday mass. After another period of restriction, we are once again, free. But that very freedom challenges us to remember why we come together at mass. Is it really worth the bother.
It can be all too easy to be like the people invited to the wedding feast in our Gospel. It is a bother to get dressed up for the party, and I’ve got other things to do, seems to be their response. And there will be all sorts of people there, many of them people I don’t know, and don’t usually associate with. We can understand the reasoning, we may even feel the pull of it.
But, again and again, Jesus uses the image of a feast, or a banquet, to describe the Kingdom of God. It’s not just because we are promised a good party, but because it is something we experience and enjoy together. We can’t do it alone, because we are not alone. Whether we like it or not we are part of a family, our own family, the family of the Church, the human family.
The 17th century poet John Donne perhaps put it best in his famous lines meditating on the sound of a funeral bell:
No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
Our coming together in worship helps to remind us that we are one body. Those others at mass, even visitors I have never seen before and may never see again, are a part of me. Their joys and sorrows, happiness and suffering, are mine. And I am to love them as myself. Living that truth is a daily challenge, easy to lose our grip on, if we do not come together to renew our commitment. It’s a little like renewing wedding vows, in fact.
And it does require intent. We’re all used to the concept of a bubble now. That is fine for public health, but we should never be in a spiritual bubble. That perhaps was the point of the man without a wedding garment. He had turned up in body, but was still really in his personal bubble. As we come together for the first time in a while, may we set aside our spiritual bubbles to rejoice that we are a part of a community, a celebration in fact, and recognise our connection to those with whom we celebrate.
Father Chris Denham