It is so easy to skip church on Sunday. All I have to do is reach over, turn off the alarm and go back to sleep. No more waking the kids up for the 7th day this week. No more hustling them to eat their breakfast and get into their church clothes so we are at Mass on time. No more worrying about what other people think of my kids when they are climbing all over the pew, dropping the hymnal, doing the dab in the front row, needing to go potty during the consecration of the Eucharist, or screaming because their sibling pinched them. No more sweat running down my face as I look around at all of the other people in church with well behaved children or retiree’s with no children glaring at me as if I need to get control of my kids. It is so much easier for me to just stay home, get up late, make a nice big breakfast (or better yet go out to breakfast), workout, and enjoy one of the only days of the week I have the opportunity to sleep in.
But that is not what Jesus asks us to do. Look, I get it. I really do. I have three kids of varying ages. My three kids are involved in soccer, choir, horseback riding, Pony Club, golf, and soon to be basketball and baseball. The kids put up a fuss every Sunday about going, but in the end, they know it isn’t a choice, it is a commitment our family has made to God. This commitment will hopefully instill the faith and hope that is needed to get us through to our final days where we will stand before God and the door will be opened for us to enter eternity together.
You might be saying to yourself “I never made church a priority and my kids are now older and they won’t want to go” or “My daughter wants to play Division 1 soccer and her games and tournaments fall on Sunday” or “The church we go to doesn’t offer child care/Sunday school during Mass and I have a very active 2 year old who won’t sit still” or any multitude of other excuses for not making church a priority on Sunday. But let me ask you this, did you know that studies show that children who are not exposed to church have only a 9% chance of going later in life? Did you know that within two generations your family will not believe in God at all? That is a scary thought. Much scarier than my 13 year old’s wrath when I wake her up early Sunday morning.
So many of us view church as a burden. The burden of getting up early. The burden of having to explain to the coach why Mass is more important than a soccer game. The burden of chasing our kids around the church. The burden of sometimes dragging our teens kicking and screaming out of bed. The burden of listening to a homily or music that we don’t like while at Mass.
This Holy Week we remember that Jesus died for us. He died a horrible brutal death to save us from our sinfulness. Every time he was kicked, spit upon, beaten, scourged, and chastised that was you and me. Every single one of those blows has our names on them. That is burden.
The burden that Jesus Christ carried to the cross is unfathomable. All of my sins. The sins of the world. The people He loved then, turning their backs on Him. The people He loves now, continuing to turn their backs on Him. Don’t turn your back on Him. Respond to his love. Keep the Sabbath Holy. Instead of using the words “It’s Sunday, we have to go to church”, use the words “It’s Sunday, we GET to go to church”. And, most importantly, we GET to receive Jesus body, blood, soul, and divinity in the Eucharist.
In closing, I wanted to leave you with this reflection that I read yesterday in the Magnificat. May this Easter bring you back to the Church to experience God’s love in the most intimate gift He left here on earth, the Eucharist.
Our Last Communion – “He dipped the morsel, then took it and gave it to Judas, son of Simon Iscariot.” —John 13:26
At Saturday’s Easter Vigil and in the next two months, many people, especially children, will be celebrating their First Communions. This will be the first time they receive the Body and Blood, soul and divinity of Jesus. These First Communions will be among the greatest events in their lives.
Yet what about your last Communion? Will it rightly be called “Viaticum,” meaning “on the way with Jesus” to heaven? Or will it be like the Last Supper when Jesus gave “the bit of food” to Judas (Jn 13:26)? “Immediately after, Satan entered his heart” (Jn 13:27). Will your last Communion be months or years before your death, or moments before your death and entry into heaven? Is Communion “kid’s stuff” for you, or the center and heartbeat of your daily life?
Tomorrow, we will celebrate throughout the world Holy Thursday, the day of the first Communion of all time. Make a new first Communion on Holy Thursday — the first time you’ve ever loved the Lord so much. If you continue and grow in the first love (see Rv 2:4) of this new first Communion, your last Communion will be a Holy Communion of love leading to heaven.