My brothers, there is no necessity for us to obey our unspiritual selves or to live unspiritual lives. If you do live in that way, you are doomed to die; but if by the Spirit you put an end to the misdeeds of the body you will live.
Everyone moved by the Spirit is a son of God. The spirit you received is not the spirit of slaves bringing fear into your lives again; it is the spirit of sons, and it makes us cry out, “Abba, Father!” The Spirit himself and our spirit bear united witness that we are the children of God. And if we are children we are heirs as well: heirs of God and coheirs with Christ, sharing his sufferings so as to share his glory.
One sabbath day Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who for eighteen years had been possessed by a spirit that left her enfeebled: she was bent double and quite unable to stand upright. When Jesus saw her he called her over and said, “Woman, you are rid of your infirmity” and he laid his hands on her. And at once she straightened up, and she glorified God.
But the synagogue official was indignant because Jesus had healed on the sabbath, and he addressed the people present, “There are six days,” he said, “when work is to be done. Come and be healed on one of those days and not on the sabbath.” But the Lord answered him. “Hypocrites!” he said. “Is there one of you who does not untie his ox or his donkey from the manger on the sabbath and take it out for watering? And this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan has held bound these eighteen years – was it not right to untie her bonds on the sabbath day?” When he said this, all his adversaries were covered with confusion, and all the people were overjoyed at all the wonders he worked.
What is the focus of the Mass? Who do we worship when we celebrate Mass? Most of us would probably answer something along the lines of: “We worship Christ in his real presence at the Eucharist.” But if this were true, why would we need a congregation of people to come together for Mass? We could very well do it on our own in front of the Blessed Sacrament.
It might surprise you to learn that our primary purpose at Mass is not to adore Christ himself, but to join him in his adoration of the Father. The 18th century heresy Jansenism was largely responsible making people believe that the purpose of the Eucharist was to provide them with the means to worship Christ in his real presence, rather than to join him in his sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Father and to receive him in Holy Communion. As St. Paul says, it is the Spirit that makes us cry out together with Christ, “Abba, Father!”
It is therefore of utmost importance that our celebration of Mass is not reduced to personal devotion or piety. Some of us are tempted to sing extra loudly at Mass, or to sing a hymn in a way that is different from the way the rest of the congregation is singing it, or to kneel when everyone else is standing or vice versa. Such a behaviour betrays a lack of understanding of the purpose of the liturgy, which is to bring together the people of God and worship the Father in communion with Christ.
As such, we need to be mindful of our fellow worshippers. What hypocrites we are when we, in order to have a more peaceful Mass, prevent certain people such as children from being present with us at the Mass! In today’s gospel reading, Jesus shows care for the woman at the synagogue, and reminds us through his example that it is more important to care for our neighbour than it is to follow a law that would prevent us from being caring towards another, especially at communal prayer.
Let us pray therefore that we will bear in mind the presence of our fellow worshippers when we next attend Mass, and to unite our prayers and worship with them, and with Christ, directing it towards our heavenly Father. Amen.
Give Thanks to the Lord for: Vatican II liturgy.
Tue, 30 Oct – Romans 8:18-25; Luke 13:18-21
Wed, 31 Oct – Romans 8:26-30; Luke 13:22-30
Thu, 01 Nov – Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12a; Solemnity of All Saints
Fri, 02 Nov – Daniel 12:1-3; Romans 6:3-9; John 6:37-40; All Souls
Sat, 03 Nov – Romans 11:1-2a, 11-12, 25-29; Luke 14:1, 7-11; Memorial for St. Martin de Porres, religious
Sun, 04 Nov – Wisdom 11:22 – 12:2; 2 Thessalonians 1:11 – 2:2; Luke 19:1-10; Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time
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Disclaimer: The reflections expressed in this e-mail are the writer’s own. They may not necessarily reflect the teachings of the Catholic Church. Nonetheless we should all be able to learn something from it.