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Gathering around the table

 

“It’s hot in here.”

“Next time, can we have air conditioning?”

“Who’s watching the kids?”

“How’d we find this place, anyway?”

Comments flew as generations of our family gathered for a reunion that almost didn’t happen.

Last year’s gathering was canceled in the wake of spring flooding. Health problems prevented family members originally set to host and plan this year’s event from doing so. We almost didn’t get together.

Yet here we were, at least five generations of the family, braving the Texas heat to visit with each other. Funerals seem to be the only reasons so many of us gather anymore. We prayed, enjoyed a meal, told stories, and more.

Several folks, instead of enjoying that we were all together for a fun and happy reason, chose to focus on the heat or other issues and complain.

Yet those there to reconnect and visit with folks we seldom see, since we’re so scattered and busy with our own lives, enjoyed the day and stayed into the evening to visit, tell stories, sing, watch the kids play, and make new memories.

Mass is like a family reunion each Sunday. We take the time from our own busy schedules to gather as God’s family. We pray, tell the stories, and share a meal. We connect with generations and make memories. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8).

And it’s the same at church as it is at family reunions. Some of us would rather complain about the lack -- of amenities, ministries, services, whatever -- instead of enjoying what we do have.

We have a God who loves us beyond imagining, who sent His only Son to give His life to save us. We have a shared faith in our Lord. We have freedom in which to gather and worship as family, together at the Lord’s table. We have a lovely sanctuary in which to gather, and priests who give their lives to serve. We have dedicated volunteers who coordinate the services, give their time to practice music to enhance our praise and worship, teach Bible studies and faith formation, or offer children’s services and Vacation Bible School. We have people who give of their skills and time to clean and decorate, cut the grass, serve in ministries, create and serve on retreats ... and so much more.

The parish, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, is “... the place where all the faithful can be gathered together for the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist.”

Come to this Sunday’s reunion, and gather with our faith family around the table to enjoy the Lamb’s Supper, enjoy the traditions, and hear the stories. Mass, said St. John Paul II, is “heaven on earth.”

Let’s focus on the plenty we have and the love we share -- for God and for each other.

And let’s make new memories to share with the generations that are and those yet to come.

 
 
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