January 15-16: Preparing for Sunday’s Mass

Do you know anyone who feels bad about feeling good? There are some people, maybe more than we think, who seem to think that, in order to be a “good” Catholic they always have to be denying themselves, always “making sacrifices.” If they go out to have a good time, they come back afterwards with guilty feelings. If they are really enjoying life, they think there must be something wrong, they are being “too worldly.”

Yet, in this weekend’s Gospel (John 2, 1-11) we read the story about Jesus and His mother and His disciples taking part in a grand wedding party. Do you suppose there were some who felt (and maybe some who still feel) that Jesus should have just attended the wedding ceremony (the “religious part”) and kept away from the festivities? Not only that, when the wine ran out, Jesus was the one who saw that there was a plentiful supply. In fact, He provided them with so much that they could not possibly have drunk it all.

As we return to the “ordinary time” of the Church’s year, one clear message today is that our  religion is supposed to be a religion of joy. The genuine Catholic believer is supposed to know how to enjoy life! So many people, however, have such a gloomy outlook on life and an even more gloomy attitude toward their religion. For many people, the Catholic experience seems a terribly “serious business.” When people visit us here at Holy Cross parish, do you think they get the impression that we are a happy bunch of people who have come to celebrate, to rejoice in the Lord?

The setting of the first “sign” (or miracle) of Jesus, a wedding feast, is meant to remind us of the meal we celebrate every Sunday: the Eucharist. Our Mass is the occasion on which we gather to eat and drink around the table of the Lord. It is, indeed, a time of celebration. It is tragic, at best, if we regard “faithful attendance” (the phrase is revealing) as a kind of “penance” or even a “duty.” Some still ask, but what is there to celebrate? At its deepest, we celebrate every Sunday all that God has done for us in Jesus Christ through His life, His teaching, His death, and His Resurrection – all signs of God’s overwhelming love for us. Our hope is that the celebration of Sunday’s Mass will spill over into the coming week, so as to prolong the festivity and allow God’s grace to fill every moment of each day.

The Sunday Mass is the central “sign” of the generosity of God and the fullness of life which He wants us to experience. God wants to give us life, life in abundance! There is no need to feel bad about feeling good. No one should be enjoying life more than the followers of Jesus!

Special Note: We will return to “livestreaming” the Mass from Holy Cross church Sunday morning, January 16, at 9am. Please see the link on the website’s front page. (The Mass will remain available all day Sunday and throughout the week.)

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