Archdiocese of Milwaukee Auxiliary Bishop James Schuerman is the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity guest blogger for the last of a three-part series on Sunday and The Banquet of the Lord. To read Part 1 click here.
Sunday and Holy Communion
In any parish on any given Sunday, people gather for Mass – people who see things differently, experience life differently, and live their lives differently, yet are capable of gathering together around the same Eucharistic table despite their differences to receive the Body and Blood of Christ. Every effort towards unity in parishes has its origin in the Eucharistic Banquet. People, who are different from one another, professing the same faith and sharing the same Banquet, draw closer together in Holy Communion.
Sunday is a Day of Rest
A couple of years ago, I was speaking with a woman, married with children, who was describing a typical week in her life, which consisted of going to work, raising a family, and taking care of the household. She said that Sunday for her had become a catch-up day of cleaning, doing laundry and ironing. It was clear to me that she was exhausted. I remember talking with her about the need for a Sabbath rest. It would mean a lot of reorganization in her routine and the cooperation of family members, but having a day of rest is essential.
Throughout the week, our lives are full of activities, social media, and attention to the daily needs in life. Distractions are constant. We need rest to relax our bodies, clear our minds and refresh our spirits. It is necessary to take time outside of work, shopping and daily routines for our spiritual, mental and physical wellbeing.
Sunday is a day of rest to refresh us. Sunday is the first day, a day of new life, a day that inspires hope, a day that launches us into a new week and new opportunities to share the love of God.
Our society today foments in us a worldview that is egocentric and individualistic. It is very easy for us to believe in the myth that we are self-made men and women, who gain everything on our own merits. We easily forget the Gospel truth that everything we have is a gift and comes from God. We must learn to worship our Creator, with all humility, who is all good, all-powerful, all loving and all merciful. God is our source, our sustenance and our goal. (Photo: Resurrected Christ, Most Precious Blood Catholic Church, New London, WI)
Sunday is the Day of Resurrection
Whenever I celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation with young people, I dedicate part of my homily to the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit. I usually highlight a few of those seven gifts that I think are important for them to hear at their stage of development. One gift that I always highlight is the gift of piety, the gift that helps us to pray and worship our God. I tell them that the gift of piety motivates us to participate in the Sunday Mass. Every Sunday, we have the opportunity to encounter Jesus Christ, resurrected, alive and in our midst. We encounter him in the Word of God proclaimed and in the Eucharist that we share.
As Christians, we believe that God is at the very center of our lives. Our spiritual journey on earth is one of deepening our relationship with God, which includes listening attentively to his Word. The deepest expression of this listening is to hear the communal proclamation of the Sacred Scriptures in the Liturgy of the Word. We listen to the voice of God that we might interiorize his message and put it into practice. When I think about the Word of God proclaimed, I think of the two disciples walking to Emmaus on the first day of the Week. They encounter the risen Christ without knowing his identity. He unfolds the meaning of Sacred Scripture to them, and explains to them that the Christ had to suffer in order to come into his glory. After inviting him to stay with them, they recognize him in the breaking of the bread, whereupon he disappears from their midst. They exclaim, “Were not our hearts burning within us…while he was explaining the Scriptures to us?”
We encounter the resurrected Christ in the Word of God proclaimed and in the Eucharist that we share. During the Eucharistic Prayer at Mass, we remember that Christ died to save us from sin and death, and rose again to bring us new and eternal life.
The Father freed his Son Jesus from the chains of death by the power of his Spirit of love. This same Jesus died to free us from the chains of sin. Jesus took up his cross and bore the weight of our sins, our selfishness, our covetousness and our hate. On the cross, Jesus united our suffering with his own wounds. Jesus, the Innocent One, died for us, the guilty, and conquered death forever. He rose to give us new life.
We are a people of the resurrection. Our lives have meaning because Christ rose from the dead. He is living and present to us in the Word, in the Sacraments and in his Holy Spirit, who moves and guides us. Sunday is a day to rejoice in new life, eternal life, life in the love of God. Every Sunday is a “little Easter.” (Photo: St. Francis and Jesus, Good Shepherd Catholic Parish, Chilton, WI)
Sunday and Mission
Every Sunday, we hear the proclamation of the Good News, the loving, merciful communication of God. Every Sunday, we receive the Body of Christ to become the Body of Christ in this world. At the end of Mass, the celebrant sends us on mission to proclaim the Good News with our lives, and to be Good News for others by being instruments of the love of God. Evangelization consists of proclaiming the Good News of salvation in Christ, by our words, our actions and our attitudes. (Photo: Bishop James Schuerman and Father Bob Stiefvater at Confirmation at St. Martin de Porres Catholic Parish, Milwaukee, permission granted for photo by the Black and Indian Mission Office Washington D.C.)
The Gift of Sunday
In conclusion, Sunday is a true gift of God. It is a day to take a pause in life and refresh our spirits. It is a day to worship and adore our God, especially in the Sunday Mass. In the Sunday Mass, we encounter the resurrected Christ. We encounter him in the Word of God proclaimed and in the sacred Banquet of the Eucharist. Christ makes himself present to us in the consecration of bread and wine. In Holy Communion, we share in the true Body and Blood of Christ. Christ accepted his passion and death to save us. At Mass, we have the opportunity to unite our sufferings to his in order to be transformed by his love. At Mass, we receive the Body and Blood of Christ to become the Body of Christ in this world. Our mission is to proclaim the Good News, especially in our works of love.
The Lord invites us to his Banquet every Sunday. He desires to share his abundant gifts with us and to form us into instruments of his love and mercy in this world. Come to the Banquet! Come to the Banquet of God!