Sunday, June 28
Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Matthew 10: 37- 42
Jesus said to his apostles:
“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me,
and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;
and whoever does not take up his cross
and follow after me is not worthy of me.
Whoever finds his life will lose it,
and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
“Whoever receives you receives me,
and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.
Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet
will receive a prophet’s reward,
and whoever receives a righteous man
because he is a righteous man
will receive a righteous man’s reward.
And whoever gives only a cup of cold water
to one of these little ones to drink
because the little one is a disciple—
amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.”
I am going to shift our focus from the gospel passage because this weekend is significant for the community of St.Brigid of Kildare. On March 15, 2020 the last public Mass was celebrated in our Church building. We have had a Eucharistic Fast and Abstinence for 95 days. This weekend (June 27 and 28, 2020), the church building will be opened to the public but not without limits. In order to continue to do all that we can to keep people safe and help them to keep others safe, only 200 people will be allowed to attend each Mass. These precautionary measures present a continued challenge to the faithful. How do we practice our faith and continue to find spiritual nourishment away from church services and reception of Holy Communion?
We know that Bishop Brennan has extended the “obligation” of Mass attendance into September, but most celebrate Mass, not out of obligation, but because of a deep hunger to receive the gift of the Body and Blood of Jesus in Communion and out of a desire to share with the community.
It has been a strange 95 days. Many have taken advantage of watching Mass via the live stream. They have done this from St. Brigid or from other parishes. I attended Mass at Old St. Patrick’s in Chicago and realized that I was attending with over 8000 people. I attended an In-home Bread Service with the people of a church I use to attend in Louisville, KY. I joined with a group of other sisters and we, each in our own home, attended Mass together from Yale in New Haven, CT. Sometimes we have muted the homily and shared our thoughts on the readings and them rejoined for the remainder of the Mass. I have found it very difficult to stay focused when I am not actually participating in the ritual with the community face-to-face.
It has been 95 days reflecting on what it means to be Church and finding creative ways of celebrating with others so that we do not lose our sense of community. It has been 95 days of learning new ways to talk with each other and share experiences of how God is present to us, even in the midst of crisis. We have to keep telling ourselves, that the church never closed just the church building closed. The Church is not a building, it is a living, faith community. We are called not to attend Church (though we will rejoice when we are all able to do that again). We are called to be Church. How have you been Church during these pandemic times? How will you continue to be Church?
There is a reciprocity between liturgy and everyday life—the effectiveness of our Eucharist and the power of Christian witness are directly related. It is impossible to celebrate Eucharist meaningfully, if our lives are not Eucharistic–blessed, broken and shared with others. If our lives are not part of something greater than our individual selves, we miss out on the fullness and depth of meaning of Eucharist. St. Augustine use to say to those receiving Communion, “Become what you eat.” Those words have rung out loudly during these times of global pandemic. We must be bread for one another. We must be a source of nourishment for each other. We must be the Body of Christ in the world.
For those who are able to attend Mass, we all rejoice with you. It has between a long 95 day fast and abstinence period. For those who will not be able to attend or should not attend Church yet (myself included), I encourage us to keep searching for new and creative ways to be Church for each other. Keep reaching out to others. Keep being hungry for the gifts God offers us in a myriad of ways. Keep being bread for others. Keep being church for others. Keep being Christ for one another. “We are called to act with justice, we are called to love tenderly, we are called to serve one another and to walk humbly with God.” Micah 6:8 When we do this then we are a living, breathing CHURCH. We truly are the Temple of the Holy Spirit.
-SIster Teresa Tuite, OP