In continuing my column series of “… why do I have to go to Church, when I can just pray on my own?” Why go to Mass?
Here is Reason 4) To ponder how to live and love better (both individually and communally).
That it’s important for us each week to come together to think and pray about how can I live better and love better!
Last week I talked about the importance of us recognizing our own shortcomings, which leads into then us reflecting how we (both as individuals and a community) can live better and love better.
I found it’s REALLY easy to be good loving Christian when I never interact with anyone!
Sometimes people tell me they don’t like going to Church because people there are not always the best of people….well it’s EXACTLY in LEARNING to love them that pulls us out of ourselves, helps pull us out of our own selfishness! It’s easy to love people who are kind to you and easy to love. But Jesus tells us to also love those who are HARD to love! Who are not necessarily kind to you or love you back! And gathering AS A COMMUNITY (in church), brings us face to face each week with that challenge. How do we learn to love each other? And it’s a process! “They will know we are Christians by our love,”… and perhaps we might think some people are pretty unloving at Church…but the answer, the SOLUTION, then is for ME to be the example of Christian love. Still loving this person who is mean, unkind, petty, dramatic, etc., RATHER THAN walking away from Church!
It’s far too easy for me to just NOT go to Church and NOT deal with people and convince myself that I am pretty good and loving. It’s in being with those who are difficult to love that we ACTUALLY GROW in Love, that we experience the LIMITS of our love!
So we need them AND God’s Divine Love continuing to transform our hearts to grow in that capacity.
Sometimes, when I get pretty full of myself, thinking I’ve arrived at perfection in love, I do a thought experiment, asking myself a series of questions:
- Would I be willing die for my family and friends? ….sure…
- Would I be willing to suffer agonizing torture for the?….maybe…
- What about a stranger…would I be willing to die for a stranger if it meant their good?
- Would I be willing to undergo agonizing torture for a complete stranger if it meant their good?
- Would I be willing to undergo agonizing torture if they DIDN’T CARE?? Or were UNGRATEFUL?
Because THAT is DIVINE LOVE! That is the Love of Jesus Christ Crucified! And I don’t know about you, but I know I am NOT there yet! That is a love beyond my own human capacity…
…but it’s a love I’m called to live!
AND it’s God who then transforms us little by little, week after week to GROW in that Divine love, to become vessels of His Divine Love (which we cannot achieve on our own, but only by His Grace)…and He does that especially through coming to Church week after week, where we are challenged by the prayers of the Mass, the Scriptures (Especially Christ’s words in the Gospel), and the people, to grow in love; and that we are transformed by receiving His Body and His Blood, in the Eucharist.
PS: Next week: Reason #5 – To unite myself to the saving sacrifice if Christ on the Cross (done most perfectly through the Mass).