January 31, 2016
Dear Parish Family,
I saw a newspaper article this week that reported on one of the candidates for President responding to a question about religion. The candidate was actually on more sound theological footing than the reporter was and clearly had the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians, today’s second reading, in mind in making the response.
The reporter, however, gushed enthusiastically over the candidate’s response, virtually elevating the speaker to sainthood and certainly putting words and ideas into the candidates response that, as far as I could see from reading the actual response, were not in any way included. For example, the reporter marveled over the candidates understanding of Christianity and celebrated what the reporter saw as a declaration that the point of religion is social justice and loving other people.
It isn’t. And to the best I could tell, the candidate never suggested that it was. Now, social justice and the love of neighbor are both wonderful things and are certainly in themselves worthy of celebration. Further, those desiring to live as Christ instructs them should be concerned about social justice and must be concerned with the Greatest Commandment, part of which is to love one’s neighbor as oneself. However, neither one of those are uniquely Christian ideas; it is certainly possible for an atheist to be deeply concerned about matters of social justice. Many of them are. You need not come to church to love your neighbor; it is possible to do that from the comfort of your own home.
The reason we go to church — and, specifically, to the Catholic Church — is the sure and certain knowledge that we will die and then be judged, and we will either go to heaven or to hell. Further, we understand that going to heaven is a very good thing and going to hell is a very bad thing — a failure — and we are humble enough to realize that without the help that God gives us through His One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, we are likely to fail.
Our reason for being is to know God, to love God, to serve God, and to be with Him forever in heaven. Celebration of this happy fact of our existence makes going to Mass easy; the desire to be pleasing to God and to be made worthy of the gift of being made in His image is the reason for our religion. This is why the Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith, because in receiving Christ in the Blessed Sacrament we are brough into union with Him and come closer to our eternal home where we will dwell with God forever.