Saturday, June 13, 2009

Homily / Sermon for Corpus Christi

They say familiarity breeds contempt. I don’t believe it. I think familiarity breeds indifference and complacency.

Many would say that this has become true of the Mass. It us so familiar, and receiving communion is so routine for  us, that we have ceased to appreciate its true value.

Whenever we meet for worship we have mass. Many of the old devotions said publicly, holy hours, rosaries, novenas, benediction, have almost withered away (and when we do celebrate them very few attend). And receiving holy communion is so common now that people feel that if they go to mass they must receive communion, as if it is a right, not a privilege. And in mny places, if a priest is not available for mass - even on a weekday - people feel the only way to worship together is in a communion service - not by celebrating the Liturgy of the Hours, or saying the rosary.

We take the Mass so much for granted, and communion too, that we prepare badly for it or hardly at all. Those who have missed mass for weeks or even years, routinely come for communion the next time they appear, whether or not they have been reconciled with the Church. Those who have committed serious sin, even if they are very aware of it, do not think it prevents them from taking communion. People talk not just before and after Mass, but very often before and after receiving communion. That magical moment which was our First Holy Communion has long past, and Mass becomes - so very often - just something that we do.

How we can change this. It might be said that it is the familiarity itself which is the problem, but I am not so sure. Making the Mass less accessible and communion less easy may seem an easy answer for some, but it is easier to say than to do, and we face the danger of making ourselves superior or self-righteous.

No. the challenge for us is not to become less familiar with the Mass, but rather to become far less complacent. The challenge is not to take it for granted, but always to appreciate it, love it, live it. We need, each one of us, to make the Mass truly what the Church calls it, ‘the source and summit (the beginning and the end, the purpose and the aim) of the Christian life’.

The family does not breed contempt or even indifference to our parents, children and siblings, and neither should familiarity. It is in the family that we first learn to love, and in which we grow. The family breeds all of us and all we know, and familiarity is nothing other than to grow in a family. Familiarity breeds love.

In the Mass we meet the self-giving love of God. In the Mass we are given the overflowing grace of Christ. In the Mass heaven meets earth.

It is something with which we should be very familiar  - and something which should never cease to amaze us.

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