Unsatisfied? Really?!

Sunday Readings for June 23rd, 2019.

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Last week a friend of mine and I went to dinner at one of the top restaurants in the state of Minnesota. When this restaurant opened, it was heralded as the number one new restaurant that year. The chef is a James Beard award winner. The room is elegant and simple, as is the food. Our meal was spectacular. One of my finest dining experiences ever. 

Later, when asked about my meal, I raved. But then I made some small critique of one of the salads and one of the opening plates. The food and the restaurant were phenomenal, but my small criticisms seemed to indicate that I wasn’t exactly satisfied. 

I don’t know about you, but I feel a certain pressure to be critical. It’s as if to demonstrate my sophistication, I need to criticize everything I experience. If I enjoy something or I am too positive, it almost feels like I haven’t really examined it yet. If I don’t hold a negative opinion, I am base, lowbrow, and simple. Negativity is the sign of the cultured sophisticate. 

Unfortunately I think this attitude and disposition towards negativity can invade our faith. I can’t tell you how many times in a Bible study I’ve heard someone (sometimes myself) critique the author and fail to examine what the text is trying to teach about God. It’s almost like we are saying, my opinion about this author or program or situation is proof I am a discerning Christian who cares. But in reality we are often so busy critiquing that we miss being blessed by God.

If I can be so bold, I think this attitude and behavior is most often exhibited by us when we talk about the Mass. I know people who always seem to have something negative to say about the homily or the music or the worship space or the vestments whenever they walk out of Mass. In fact, I think judging Mass has reached an epidemic level. And in all honesty, I’m the number one offender.

At Mass, Heaven and Earth meet. Really. The God of the universe becomes bread and wine for us to consume and we are physically united with our Creator. Really. God invites us into the inner life of the Trinity. Really. With every single Saint who has ever lived, we worship Jesus who died on a cross to save us from death. Really. We are drawn into intimate communion with all of our brothers and sisters in faith. Really. And after all that, we leave unsatisfied? Really?!

We eat donuts and complain about the length of this or the music of that, but in reality we are missing God smack in our faces. 

Do we have things we could do better? Sure, no doubt. And we all have preferences when it comes to what helps us encounter God at Mass. But do we really think that our satisfaction is an indication of whether God was present to us or not at Mass? Really?!

The reality is that God is powerfully, intimately, and transcendently present to us in the Mass. God is in the proclaimed words of scripture and the Eucharist. If we can be humble enough to put aside our sophistication, we can experience the same satisfaction of the 5000+ plus who were fed multiplied loaves and fish. If we want to be satisfied, we have to come on Sunday ready to worship God and seeking to forget ourselves. 

LIVE IT: On your way to Mass this week or when you enter your pew before Mass, Ask God to help you forget yourself, fully enter into worship, and to become more aware of how God wants to satisfy you. 

Post Script – I recognize my rant above (mostly directed at myself), is not the whole conversation. Certainly we can desire to celebrate Mass in a way that more perfectly demonstrates Truth, Beauty, and Goodness. Volumes of books have been written about the Mass and what constitutes good liturgy. Today, this was the message I needed to hear and my gut (and the last 10 years of donut conversations) says many of you needed to hear it too. Thanks for reading and reflecting. Ck

 

The Good Word for June 7th

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Kids are funny. One of my favorite kid things happens only when they are toddlers. My kids would fall down and then look up to me to see if they are okay or if they should cry. I learned quickly that if I just said, “You’re okay! Dust it off!” and smile, then my kids would be fine.

Until, of course, there is blood. If they fall and are bleeding, they know it is serious and tears are most certainly called for. How do they know? Did I accidently teach them that blood means a more serious injury? Or do they just kind of know?

With our modern medical discoveries, we know how important blood is. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to our cells. Blood protects us from bacteria and viruses. Lose too much blood and you die. Blood is life.

Even without our medical knowledge, the Hebrew people understood the importance of blood. For them blood was sacred because it meant life and death. When Moses wanted to signify a covenant between God and the Hebrew people, he used blood because this relationship between God and his people is a life and death relationship. Moses knew that without God, his people would die.

No different for us. Without God, we die. But instead of bull’s blood, we have God’s own blood given to us by Jesus Christ. When we go to Mass, we actually consume Jesus’ body and blood in the Eucharist. We no longer sacrifice animals because Jesus has given himself as the sacrifice. That sacrifice was made on the Cross 2000 years ago, and we participate in it every time we go to Mass.

The Mass isn’t just music and words. At Mass we remember, reinforce, reestablish, renew, and recommit to our deeply intimate and profoundly powerful relationship with God. And we recommit to that covenant with God by receiving Jesus’ body and blood. It is this relationship that will save our life. Jesus shed his blood, gave his very life, so that we may have life with God forever.

Live it:
Go to Mass. Pray for a deeper desire to be close to God.