There’s nothing like being forced to stay away from your “assembly” to make you appreciate the wisdom of St. Paul’s admonition to the Hebrews that “We should not stay away from our assembly as is the custom of some, but encourage one another.”
The week before Christmas, I slipped on some snow and ice and broke an ankle. Instead of heading to my beloved St. John’s Church on the Creighton campus for Midnight Mass, a friend brought me Communion at home. Since then, I’ve watched the Mass for Shut-Ins on local TV and discovered how sterile it seems compared to participating in a live liturgy.
I’m hit by the magic that happens when people of faith come together to sing, pray, listen to the Scriptures, reflect on their lives, share news with friends, laugh and exchange a greeting of peace. It’s very different than watching the same essential service on a TV screen. I miss my people!
I’ve missed the way we greet each other as we come and catch up on the past week before Mass starts. I’ve missed hearing about the “good works” that so many of my friends devote their lives to – and the way they “rouse one another” to get involved. I’ve missed warbling along with our wonderful musicians. I’ve missed the homilies that always give me something to think about and often provoke a good laugh. Please tell me that Greg Carlson S.J. didn’t deliver one of his “toy” homilies while I have been gone or that Roc O’Connor S.J. didn’t find an innovative way to make the readings come to life! I’ve missed the hugs at the Kiss of Peace and the feeling of warmth and reverence during the Eucharist.
This enforced absence (hopefully ending this week) has made me realize the extent to which I depend on our community to experience God and how it’s important for all of us to create community and welcome newcomers into our communities. As St. Paul says, we “must consider how to rouse one another to love and good works.”
In the past three weeks, I’ve learned that God and me alone – it’s just not the same.
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