12th Sunday In Ordinary Time
Fr. Mark Gatto
Preached: June 21, 2020
Are we back? After three months we are back to gather for Mass at the church. But, though our church buildings were closed, the church was still open these past three months.
- The church was open wherever families were praying together at home.
- The church was still open wherever a Catholic sat quietly at home praying for others.
- The church was still open whenever one member of our parish called a neighbour or friend to check in on them.
- The church was still open when one of us made a donation to the local food bank or other group that cares for those in need.
- The church was still open as members of our parish, including high school students, were calling parishioners on our parish database.
- The church was still open when any member of our parish praised God for the beauty of creation that we perhaps noticed more than usual.
Yes, church buildings were closed, but it is a mistake to say that the church was closed.
Now our church buildings are open again. We are returning to our church buildings to gather again for the Sacraments, for the Eucharist. We come to Mass not to be loved by God, we come to Mass to love like God, to love as Jesus loved. We come to Mass, not for selfish, self-centred reasons, to receive something from God.
We come to Mass to become more Christ-like. To build up the body of Christ, the church. We come here to grow in self-giving love revealed in Jesus. If we come to Mass but do not grow in love, do not become more selfless, more united to others, then the church will not be more open now than before.
One example. This weekend we are restricted to 30% capacity in our building. That means there may be some people who will arrive for Mass and they will be told they cannot remain for Mass because we are full. The test of our faith will be how people respond to that situation.
Some people who come to Mass today and find out that they cannot remain, will have the best opportunity to be the church, to build up the church. If they receive that news and are able to smile, to say a prayer for the parish and return home at peace. They are being church, they are building up the church, they are reflecting the self-giving love of Jesus.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us “Fear no one,…, Do not fear those who kill the body but do not kill the soul,…, So, do not be afraid,…” Fear leads us away from the will of God. Fear is an obstacle to true love. Fear leads us into prejudice, bigotry, racism that continues to afflict our society. Fear causes us to see those who are “other” than us, with eyes of hate. Fear prevents us from seeing others with the eyes of God.
Are we back? We have come back to our church buildings today. The real sign that we are back will be if we love as Jesus loved. If we do not allow fear to darken our vision of others. Being back in our open church buildings is a challenge to all of us to live and be the church. We are here not to be loved by God, but that we might love like God.