July 14, 2019

In last week’s bulletin column and in my preaching the last couple of weeks, I have used the phrase “all in, all the way” to describe the commitment Jesus calls for in his followers. Over the course of the summer, we are reading from that section of Luke’s Gospel where Jesus is forming his disciples as he makes his way to Jerusalem. That formation is about making following Jesus, and the reign of God he is making present, the highest priority in their lives.

The Church, in giving us these scriptures to reflect on, is encouraging us to examine our commitment to discipleship and to the priority our faith has in our lives. Growing in our faith, deepening our relationship with the Lord, striving to follow Jesus more closely--all have practical implications for our lives.

In our “Fridays with Father” video posted last week on our Facebook page, I focused on one of those practical implications. In the video, I talked about how the summer is such a blessed time in our lives and an opportunity to take some time off from normal routine and to spend some leisure time with family and friends. I hope we all get a chance to do that this summer.

At the same time, I hope the summer does not become an opportunity to take time off from Sunday Mass. I say this because this is one of the fundamental ways that we Catholics are “all in, all the way.” There are a large number of Catholics, both in the wider Church and in our own parish, who view Sunday Mass as an optional experience.

Here is how the Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church (YOUCAT) describes the obligation we have to celebrate Sunday Mass: “A Catholic Christian is obliged to attend Holy Mass on all Sundays and holy days of obligation. Anyone who is really seeking Jesus’ friendship responds as often as possible to Jesus’ personal invitation to the feast.” The explanatory notes continue: “Actually, for a genuine Christian, ‘Sunday duty' is just as inappropriate an expression as 'kiss duty' would be for someone who was truly in love. No one can have a living relationship with Christ without going to the place where he is waiting for us. Therefore, from ancient times the celebration of the Mass has been the ‘heart of Sunday’ and the most important appointment of the week” (YOUCAT, #219).

For Catholics in 2019, a fundamental way of being “all in, all the way” with Jesus is Sunday Mass attendance. It is at Sunday Eucharist, on the Lord’s Day, the Day of the Resurrection, that we are fed by the very presence of Christ and strengthened to follow him and proclaim him each week.

Recently the leadership of our pastoral staff has identified this idea of being “all in, all the way” as a core value of ours. In addition to this fundamental value of Sunday Mass, there are many other practical implications for striving to be “all in, all the way” that we will unpack over the course of the coming months.

We are aware that all of us have room to grow in this area. Striving to be “all in, all the way” is more an attitude to be lived than a goal to be achieved. As he made his way to Jerusalem to meet his destiny, Jesus called his followers to be “all in, all the way” by getting their priorities right - to place discipleship and the reign of God at the top of their list.

Two thousand years later, you and I are called to do the same in very practical, everyday ways. This week, let us commit ourselves to deepen our living relationship with Christ by going, Sunday after Sunday, to that “place where he is waiting for us.”

Have a blessed week!

Fr. Gary Lazzeroni